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Hale and Smith

Antquonette Hale (left), 20, and Tahnaizja Smith, 15, both of north St. Louis County.

ST. LOUIS • Two sisters were found shot to death in a vacant lot early Sunday.

Police identified the pair as Antquonette Hale, 20, and Tahnaizja Smith, 15, both of the 3900 block of Oregon Avenue. They were found lying in a lot in the 3000 block of North Vandeventer Avenue after police were called at 12:11 a.m.

Hale had been shot in the back. Smith had wounds to her face, arm and chest. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses told police they heard gunshots and found the victims in the vacant lot, but police had no information on suspects.

Lorina Spraggins, 64, of the 3900 block of Oregon, said she got a knock at her door about 4 a.m. Sunday by police asking her if she knew the two girls. “I said, ‘Those are my grandkids,’ ” she said softly.

When the family identified the girls, they realized police had the wrong name for the younger sister because she was carrying an older sister’s identification.

Spraggins said she had seen the girls last week when they came over with their mother, Mary Vaca. They had recently moved from the Oregon address to a home in north St. Louis County.

Spraggins said she did not know why the girls were in the area where they were slain or why someone would kill them. She said the oldest girl had been living off and on with her boyfriend and that the younger one would just hang out with her sister.

Spraggins said her granddaughters were inseparable.

“They were typical teenagers hanging out with the wrong crowd,” she said. “They were not trouble-makers. I love them.”

She said the girls loved being on Facebook.

A cousin, Daniece Hale, 21, said both girls were “very outspoken, goofy and silly.

“They stood their ground at all times,” she said of the two. “They were tough.”

“They always stood up for themselves,” she said. “They always stood their ground together. They never backed down for nothing.”

She said they were talented and enjoyed singing and drawing. “They were nice, loving people,” she said.

The shooting marks the second incident in less than a week in which two women have been found shot to death in the city. On Thursday morning, a relative found two women dead inside an apartment in the 4000 block of Natural Bridge Avenue, near Fairground Park.

Authorities asked anyone with information about the homicides to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-8477.


EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect first name and age of the younger victim based on initial information provided by police. The story was updated after police released corrected information.

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Denise Hollinshed is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch