FERGUSON • A man worried that he couldn't reach his twin sister by phone went to her townhouse in Ferguson early Friday and kicked in the back door to find a bloody crime scene, authorities say.
The man found his sister and one of her friends dead, authorities say. The friend's 1-year-old daughter — left unharmed by the killer — was crying and near her dead mother, with dried blood on her feet.
Relatives identified the victims as Claudia Williams, 30, who lived at the townhome in the 1600 block of Norlakes Drive, and her longtime friend, Tasheera Johnson, 29, who lived in unincorporated north St. Louis County.
Both women had been shot to death, said Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson. They were killed within the 24 hours before their bodies were found, the chief said.
Jackson said police think the killer took off in a car belonging to the mother of one of the victims. The car, described as a white 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix with Missouri license plate WD4 F1U, was discovered by authorities in Madison County Friday afternoon, Jackson said.
There was no sign of forced entry at the apartment and the motive didn't appear to be robbery; Jackson said it's likely the victims knew the killer. Relatives suspect a boyfriend of one of the victims, whom they described as violent and jealous.
"I don't think it's random," Jackson said.
The two women were found in an upstairs bedroom at the Oakmont Townhomes in the 1600 block of Norlakes Drive at about 6 a.m. Friday, Jackson said. The area is just east of West Florissant Avenue.
There is one neighbor in an adjacent townhouse but Jackson said police have not found any witnesses.
Police have been called to the sprawling apartment complex for a variety of calls in the past, but Jackson declined to speculate on a motive for the slayings.
Williams just graduated from Sanford-Brown College, where she studied to be a medical assistant. Her relatives described her as "feisty" and said she planned to return to school to become a nurse.
Williams and her friend, Johnson, had known each other since they were teenagers in high school, said Monique Brimmer, an older sister of Johnson. Johnson's mother, Ryponza Brimmer, was sitting in a chair outside the townhouse as investigators went in and out of the crime scene. She was holding the 1-year-old girl, Johnson's daughter, who was found unharmed in the house.
"There is dried-up blood on her feet from trying to talk to her mom, I guess," Monique Brimmer said.
She said her sister would "make you laugh about anything. I'm angry and surprised. It hasn't hit me yet."
Several residents of the Oakmont Townhomes said they are plagued by crime, such as repeated car break-ins, assaults and people stealing barbecue pits from their back porches. One woman said she moved in with her daughter last spring and heard gunshots almost nightly. "We'd have to hit the floor every time," she said.
A woman who identified herself as the property manager for Oakmont Townhomes declined to comment. She ordered reporters away, saying it was private property.
Jackson, the police chief of Ferguson, said he implemented changes about 2½ years ago after he became chief to try to cut down on crime problems at the complex. He said police met with property managers and said, "It's got to stop." He said they agreed to screen tenants better and to follow up to make sure the screened tenants were really the ones living there.
Jackson said the department still gets called to the densely populated complex for fights, drug crimes and disturbances. There was a homicide at a complex nearby last year.