COLUMBIA, ILL. - Christopher Coleman, whose wife and two sons were found murdered in the family's home, was arrested Tuesday night and charged with killing them.
Investigators learned of critical evidence Tuesday that led to the three charges of first-degree murder being filed, said Maj. Jeff Connor, commander of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis. He would not specify whether it was new evidence or forensics information gleaned from previously gathered evidence.
Coleman was arrested late Tuesday at his parents' home in Chester, Ill., and was expected to be brought to the Columbia Police Department, then transferred to the Monroe County Jail later in the evening. He was to be held without bond until going before a judge today.
"It just all started coming together," Connor said of Tuesday's break in the case. "For several days now, we've been close."
Sheri Coleman, 31, and sons Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9, were found dead in their bedrooms at home in Columbia on May 5. Connor confirmed Tuesday night that the three died of ligature strangulation, which means an item such as a cord was used to kill them.
Detectives said last week that they had identified the killer and the rest was up to Monroe County State's Attorney Kris Reitz. They did not publicly disclose their suspect, but said it was someone who acted alone.
Christopher Coleman told police he was working out at a gym in St. Louis County on May 5 when his wife and children were killed in their home at 2854 Robert Avenue, sometime between 5:45 and 7 a.m.
Coleman was fingerprinted six days after the bodies were found.
Coleman had complained of some kind of threats related to his work in security for the Joyce Meyer Ministries, in Jefferson County. He resigned last week, and the ministry released a statement saying an internal inquiry showed he "failed to follow ministry policy during his employment."
It was not explained whether that had any connection to what police sources have said was more than one romantic rendezvous Coleman had with a Florida woman, a friend of his wife's, during out-of-town ministry trips.
Neither Coleman nor his lawyers have commented on the report of an extramarital affair.
Authorities found a glove with red spray paint along Interstate 255, along what would have been Coleman's route to the gym, sources said. A similar color paint was used by the killer to scrawl a message on a wall in the Coleman home. The message said something to the effect of, "I told you this would happen," sources said.
Before the announcement of an arrest Tuesday, Sheri Coleman's brother, Mario Weiss, issued a statement on behalf of himself and their parents, thanking the Major Case Squad and urging state's attorney to move forward and seek the truth.
He said his sister and her sons were "my heart, my soul, my pride and joy."
Christopher Coleman's family had a funeral for the victims May 9 in Chester. Sheri Coleman's family had the bodies taken to a mortuary in Hillsdale, Ill., a Chicago suburb, for a separate visitation May 11. Christopher Coleman did not attend the Hillsdale visitation.
Sheri Coleman's family had taken him to court the week before, claiming he tried to renege on an agreement to hold two services. He eventually agreed to a court order to move the bodies. His in-laws said in a court filing that he did not call Sheri Coleman's family about the deaths for two days.