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Police: St. Louis mom, child die in murder-suicide

Monday, October 12, 2009 | 5:21 p.m. CDT; updated 5:37 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 12, 2009

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis mother stabbed and killed her 3-year-old daughter and then shot herself, police said, on a violent night in the city during which an additional five people were shot, three fatally, in separate incidents.

St. Louis police said Monday that Tiffany Owens, 27, stabbed her daughter, Taylor Johnson, in the chest before shooting herself once. Owens' husband was not at home at the time, police said, although they did not say where he was. He found his wife and child when he came home Sunday night. The mother was dead at the scene, and the child pronounced dead at an area hospital.

Police spokeswoman Erica Van Ross said the mother was known to have psychiatric issues, though she said the department could not release details. Owens' neighbors responded with sadness and shock, saying they hadn't seen past signs of problems at the modest brick duplex where the Johnson family lived.

No one answered the family's door, and a phone message was not immediately returned.

In separate incidents in St. Louis on Sunday, three other people were killed and two wounded in shootings. At 6:30 p.m., 31-year-old Ronald Johnson was shot in the head and killed, and a 23-year-old woman in the car with him was shot in the ankles by suspects in a silver Pontiac, according to police. The woman, whose name was not released, was in stable condition Monday.

Shortly before 7 p.m., 28-year-old Torie Pittman was confronted by two suspects who shot him in the face, police said. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. Witnesses reported hearing arguing before the gunshots, police said.

About two hours later, Lacy Roberts, 27, was shot multiple times in the head. Police believe his death is related to Pittman's killing. Then, around 10:45 p.m., a 26-year-old man was shot in the leg and hospitalized in stable condition.

The police department said leading a high-risk lifestyle — such as taking part in illicit activity for profit, drug use or gang involvement — is a factor shared by a majority of homicide victims in the city. Van Ross noted she was not referring to the deaths of the mother and daughter in that analysis.

"To address the violence, we as a community must first address the issue of why young people are choosing to go down these paths and what the community, legislators, educators, employers, law enforcement, prosecutors, etc., can do to prevent people from choosing these paths," she said in a statement.

The Rev. Freddy Clark, a Baptist minister at Shalom Church City of Peace, has been involved with an area anti-violence effort known as "Call to Oneness." He agreed more must be done to prevent people from turning to crime. "When I think long and hard about this, it almost causes me to push the 'mute button,'" he said.

Clark said there are no simple solutions. "Nights like last night, it's hard to determine," he said.

 


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