An alleged “reign of terror” that included killings in Alabama and Illinois ended with the arrests of a fugitive duo suspected in the slayings and other crimes, authorities said Saturday.
“They’re some of the most evil individuals I’ve seen in my entire career,” Lt. Brian Koberna of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis said at a news conference announcing charges against the two suspects, reports the St. Louis Post-Disptach.
Brady Kane Witcher, 41, and Brittany Nicole McMillan, 28, were arrested Thursday in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood on warrants charging them with the Dec. 13 kidnapping and murder of 31-year-old Kellie Ann Hughes, who had been shot and dumped in a wooded area outside of Birmingham, Alabama.
At the time of their arrest the pair were in possession of a car registered to Shari Yates of Bethalto, Illinois.
Hazelwood police alerted their Bethalto counterparts, who made a check at the Yates address and once there, discovered the bodies of Yates, 59; her son Andrew Brooks, 30; and another man, John McMillian, 32.
Brittany McMillan previously lived in Bethalto and the couple knew their alleged victims but were not related to them, say police. “This was not a random act,” Crystal Uhe, a prosecutor with the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office in Illinois, told reporters.
Bethalto police said it appeared the killings in their community were carried out so the alleged killers could steal Yates’ car to stay on the run.
Authorities alleged that in addition to the murders, the pair’s crimes included armed robberies, shoplifting and kidnappings on their way to Illinois and Missouri through Alabama and Tennessee, where one couple was tied up, stabbed and stuffed into a closet overnight.
Their alleged actions “can only be described as a complete reign of terror,” said Uhe.
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Each of the Bethalto victims was shot in the head with a semi-automatic handgun allegedly fired by Witcher, according to the charges against him.
“They executed, in essence, the individuals at that residence,” said Koberna, reports St. Louis TV new station KMOV.
On Saturday authorities in Madison County charged both Witcher and McMillan with nine counts of first-degree murder, one count of armed robbery and one county of aggravated vehicular hijacking, reports St. Louis TV news station KSDK. Witcher also was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.
A GoFundMe donation page set up by a friend of victim John McMillian’s family said he was a father who leaves behind two children, ages 1 and 3.
“I don’t know what I am going to do without him,” his mother, Teresa Ferguson, told KMOV. “I love him so much.”
It was not immediately clear if either of the suspects had attorneys who might speak on their behalf. Both were being held Saturday in St. Louis County jail awaiting extradition to Madison County.