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Maryland Heights murder suspect says he was disturbed by noise from neighbors

Maryland Heights murder suspect says he was disturbed by noise from neighbors


MARYLAND HEIGHTS • James C. Blanton had been to the doors of neighbors in his Maryland Heights apartment complex before, complaining about a deep bass noise bothering him.

Neighbors he complained to told him they weren’t playing music and couldn’t hear the bass tones he was talking about, police said.

On Saturday afternoon he heard annoying bass noise again, he later told police, coming from an adjoining apartment in the 12500 block of Ardwick Lane. Police say he put on a bullet-resistant vest, took a handgun and confronted the neighbor, ordering Yi-Ping “Peter” Chang to “turn the bass down,” police say.

He shot and killed Chang during the confrontation about 3:30 p.m., then waited outside for police to arrive, saying the shooting was in self-defense, according to police.

Authorities disagreed. Blanton, 26, also of the 12500 block of Ardwick Lane, was charged Sunday with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon. Bail is set at $500,000.

Police say Blanton killed Chang, 35, at the door of Chang’s apartment at the Bennington Heights apartment complex. The complex is just northeast of Page Avenue and Bennington Place, west of Interstate 270.

Blanton had complained to various neighbors about bass at different points. Neighbors interviewed by the Post-Dispatch suspected Blanton was mentally ill because of what they described as hypersensitivity to noise. They said he became especially agitated when neighbors shut their doors and slammed his own in protest. Some said they made several complaints to management about Blanton’s behavior.

“The suspect claims he wanted them to ‘turn the bass down,’ but the victim wasn’t playing music,” said Maj. Joe Delia of the Maryland Heights Police Department.

Chang had been watching a movie with his girlfriend, Delia said. It was unclear whether that was generating any noise that could have disturbed Blanton. Chang’s girlfriend was uninjured, police say.

A man who said he was one of Chang’s closest friends said Chang and his family moved to St. Louis from Taiwan in the 1980s. The friend, who did not want his name published, said Chang worked in tech support for Monsanto for more than a year and held two degrees from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He described Chang as a “very smart” and tech savvy person who loved fishing, movies and traveling.

When officers arrived Saturday, they found Blanton on the landing in front of Chang’s apartment. He stayed at the scene and cooperated with police, giving them the impression that he thought what he had done was justified, police say.

Blanton’s claim is that the shooting was self-defense, police say. Police wouldn’t say if Chang had any weapon.

Police recovered a handgun that investigators believe was used in the shooting. Blanton did not have a conceal-carry permit for a firearm, police said in court papers.

Court records did not show an attorney on file to represent Blanton yet.

Joel Currier of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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