A Missouri man was arrested for allegedly shooting and killing his girlfriend, her two young children and her mother before getting into a shootout with police and stabbing a woman while trying to steal her car, officials said.
Police responding to a 911 call made from a St. Charles home where gunfire could be heard found Kate Kasten, 39, shot in her master bedroom at about 11:55 p.m. Friday. She was alive, but in critical condition. The officers then found the bodies of her two children, 10-year-old Jonathan and 8-year-old Zoe, and her mother, Jane Moeckel, 61, in a downstairs bedroom.
It appeared the door to the room had been forced open, and all three victims had also been shot.
Kasten was rushed to the hospital, but could not be saved.
“Just imagine what it looks like to have gunshot wounds and four people dead on the scene,” St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar said. “It was a gruesome, gruesome scene.”
Kasten’s boyfriend of about a year, Richard Darren Emery, 46, had been seen leaving their home and driving out of the subdivision in a white Chevrolet Silverado. When police later stopped a car matching that description, Emery allegedly refused to surrender and instead fired shots at him.
He struck the officer’s vehicle eight times, but the cop and his K-9 unit were uninjured. The officer fired back at Emery, who then ran into a wooded area, officials said.
The Major Case Squad, helicopter and SWAT teams were called in to assist with the investigation and search for Emery, who was believed to be injured.
While allegedly on the run, police said Emery attempted to carjack a woman. The woman told police Emery said “I gotta get out of here” and when he was unable to start her car, he stabbed her seven times.
The woman was in critical but stable condition.
Emery was arrested at a QuikTrip on 1st Capital Drive, just off Interstate 70 at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Workers at the store called police when Emery, covered in blood, went into their bathroom. Authorities discovered he had sustained two gunshot wounds and was taken to a local hospital to be treated.
Investigators said they discovered a gun and a knife at the scene.
Emery faces 15 charges, including first-degree murder, armed criminal action and assault.
He reportedly asked investigators if the woman he allegedly stabbed was OK and apologized to them after learning they were friends with the officers he fired at earlier.
A motive in the killings was not immediately clear.
Police said there was no known history of domestic violence, and they had never been called to the home.
“Anytime a human life is lost it’s a tragic situation and this one in particular is extremely tragic and sad,” Lohmar told reporters Saturday. “What can possess someone to take the life of a child? It’s beyond me. I don’t know how anyone could ever do such a thing. We may never know.”
Moeckel was staying with her daughter and grandchildren while recovering from a recent hip surgery. She is believed to have made the 911 call, and her loved ones said she died trying to protect her granddaughter and grandson.
"The big question is what the heck happened," Moeckel’s ex-husband and Kasten’s father, Fredrick Moeckel, told KMOV-TV. “It’s hard to not say something bad about Darren but I can't because there was never an indication that something like this could happen; he always took care, he helped the kids, the kids loved him.”
Kasten lost her husband and the father of her children to cancer in the spring of 2017, according to her co-worker and the creator of a GoFundMe page created to offset funeral expenses.
“I remember talking with her just before she lost him,” she wrote. “Kate told me that Kory didn’t want her to be sad when he passed, he wanted her to live and love because life is too short to do anything else.
“She always did her best to do as he asked,” she continued. “I can only hope she knew what an unbelievable impact she had on those around her, always sharing her amazing strength with friends and loved ones.”
Lohmar said each of the charges Emery faces carries a possible penalty of 30 years to life in prison.
"It's premature for us to make any sort of pronouncement about that right now, but I can tell you this thing looks and smells like a death penalty case," he said.