COLUMBIA — The man charged in the shooting death of a woman in her northeast Columbia home was "in a relationship with the victim's niece," Boone County Sheriff's Detective Tom O'Sullivan said.
Ryan C. Bridger, 22, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Aletha M. Turner, 67. Bridger has been held in the Boone County Jail since Tuesday on a burglary charge involving the home of someone Turner knew.
Turner was found unconscious by family members on Monday morning in her Breezewood Estates home and died Wednesday at University Hospital.
An autopsy on Thursday showed she had been shot once in the head. O'Sullivan declined to say what type of weapon was used and whether it had been recovered.
The Sheriff's Department gave Bridger's address as 726 D Demaret Drive, which is less than two miles from Turner's home at 2641 Dewey Lane.
O'Sullivan would not be specific on how investigators came to focus on Bridger, who knew Turner through her niece. “As things started to progress, he became more and more of a suspect,” O’Sullivan said.
Turner, originally from Illinois, lived alone, O'Sullivan said. She was retired and kept to herself, he said.
Turner has family in the area, but they have directed questions to the police.
Online court records for Missouri show Bridger had past traffic violations and two charges of second-degree burglary pending, in addition to the most recent charges.
Investigators are working to gain a better sense of the sequence of events around the crime.
“We’re still trying to pin that down a little bit more precisely," O'Sullivan said. "As of this time, I can’t tell you with any great degree of any specificity. I think some more analysis is going to have to be done.”