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Ex-boyfriend charged in shooting deaths of St. Louis woman and her two young daughters
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Ex-boyfriend charged in shooting deaths of St. Louis woman and her two young daughters

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Ronald S. Marr

Ronald S. Marr, charged with murdering three people in St. Louis, was held Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in the Effingham County Jail in Illinois. (Courtesy of Effingham County, via St. Louis police)

UPDATED at 6:30 p.m. Friday with comments from memorial held outside home where shooting occurred.

ST. LOUIS — After killing a woman and her two young daughters in their Dutchtown home, the woman’s former boyfriend bought a bus ticket to flee east, police said in court records Friday.

Ronald S. Marr, 34, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. He was captured 100 miles from St. Louis, in Effingham, Illinois.

St. Louis police said the three victims — 30-year-old Kanisha Hemphill, 8-year-old Journee, and 1-year-old Jakari — were each shot multiple times at 4124 South Grand Boulevard. Officers responding to a call for shots fired went into the home about 7 a.m. Thursday and found the three dead.

Marr was being held Friday in the Effingham County jail. He wore an orange and white striped jail jumpsuit during a brief court hearing held by video conference before Effingham County Judge Jeffrey DeLong. An attorney assigned to represent Marr told DeLong that Marr didn’t know how to read. So the attorney read the court documents to him about waiving extradition, which would allow St. Louis detectives to bring him back to Missouri to stand trial on the murder charges.

Marr at first waived it, then refused, then flip-flopped again, mumbling at times so that court officials couldn’t understand his words. He ultimately refused to waive extradition. Marr will remain in the Effingham County jail without bail until a hearing Feb. 25, DeLong said.

A St. Louis judge has said that once authorities are able to return Marr to Missouri, he also will not be allowed bail here.

St. Louis police chief John Hayden delivers an update following a triple homicide inside a home in the 4100 block of South Grand Avenue in St. Louis on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. The family identified the victims as a woman in her 30s and her daughters ages seven and eight months. Video by Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com

In court records, St. Louis police Detective Katherine Rund said a witness heard the shots Thursday and saw a man run from the home. The witness identified Marr in a photo lineup.

After the shooting, Marr threw away his cellphone and bought a replacement, police said. Then he bought a Greyhound bus ticket and fled.

Police did not provide a motive for the killings.

Hemphill’s older brother, Jermaine Walker, said he had seen Marr before and knew Marr and his sister had domestic problems.

“They call him Lil’ Ron,” he said. “I didn’t really care for him. They had a few instances and I always told my sister, leave the guy alone. But she ended up having a baby by him.”

The baby was Jakari, called by the nickname ReRe.

“ReRe just turned 1,” Walker said, “and (Marr) probably came to woo my sister and say, ‘Baby, open the door.’ She had no idea he was going to do that, and she opened the door.”

Walker said the family is reeling from the deaths.

“The death penalty would be too easy for him,” Walker said. “He should have ate a bullet right after that.”

Outside the duplex where the three were killed, a stream of people stopped by Friday afternoon to add to a memorial of balloons and stuffed animals piled around a light pole. Most were pink and purple, in honor of the girls’ favorite colors.

Hemphill’s older brother CeCe Dutch sat on the sidewalk in front of the memorial, interrupted occasionally by passing cars honking or drivers yelling condolences about the loss of children so young.

Over two hours, more than 50 people gathered on the lawn of the home, holding pink and purple balloons. Dutch spoke to the crowd before they released them into the sky.

“I feel like I failed her, she’s so far away now,” he said. “I didn’t want to believe it. I’ll never be complete now because Kanisha was a big part of my life.”

Dutch said she had a playful sense of humor and was a dedicated mother.

He added to the crowd a warning: Watch out for bad relationships and, to the men, never hurt a woman in your life.

Marr’s only criminal conviction listed in a police probable cause statement is for possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance. He was given a suspended sentence in that 2017 case and there is no mention of it in online court records.

Marr lives in the 10100 block of Newbold Drive in Bellefontaine Neighbors, according to the charges. Police, however, said he lived in the 500 block of Roberts Avenue in St. Louis. He had no attorney listed in court records.

Erin Heffernan of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct details on the two daughters, based on information from the St. Louis medical examiner’s office.

Kim Bell • {span id=”gc-number-0” class=”gc-cs-link” title=”Call with Google Voice”}314-340-8115 @kbellpd on Twitter kbell@post-dispatch.com

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