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Suspect in St. Louis hotel slaying shot himself in Illinois motel

Suspect in St. Louis hotel slaying shot himself in Illinois motel


CREVE COEUR, Ill. • The boyfriend of a woman whose body was found bound, beaten and bloodied in a St. Louis hotel bathtub on Thursday barricaded himself in a central-Illinois motel room and shot himself to death early Friday, authorities say.

Robert Fuller, 34, apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a coroner in Tazewell County, Ill. Fuller was pronounced dead at 1:50 a.m. Friday in a bathroom at the Ragon Motel, hours after he barricaded himself in the room and police used a bullhorn to try to communicate with him.

Fuller lived in East Peoria, Ill., about 170 miles northeast of St. Louis. He killed himself hours after St. Louis police obtained a warrant for his arrest for first-degree murder. He allegedly killed his girlfriend, Jenifer Goertzen, at a Holiday Inn in St. Louis.

According to court documents, Goertzen was either beaten or strangled or both on Wednesday at the Holiday Inn, at 5915 Wilson Avenue. A housekeeper at the Holiday Inn found Goertzen dead about 8:15 a.m. Thursday in the hotel room bathtub. The Holiday Inn is off of Hampton Avenue, just south of Interstate 44.

Goertzen, 28, lived in Morton, Ill. Zip ties were found around her feet and neck. Her hands were bound with black tape, police say.

According to a probable cause statement by St. Louis Police Officer Amy Funk, Goertzen and Fuller checked into the Holiday Inn on Sunday. They were supposed to check out of the hotel on Wednesday.

Police say surveillance cameras at the Holiday Inn showed both Fuller and Goertzen checking in, but Fuller leaving the hotel alone on Wednesday. He took her cell phone and car keys, then drove back to the Peoria area, police say. On his way back, he used Goertzen's phone to text message her mother, pretending to be Goertzen and saying she was on her way home.

When Goertzen never showed up, her mother reported her missing, police say.

At about 7 p.m. Thursday, police in Creve Coeur went to the Ragon Motel when they heard that a man in Room 29 was suicidal and had a weapon. When police got to the motel, they confirmed that Fuller was a suspect in Goertzen's murder in St. Louis.

On Thursday, police in St. Louis applied for an arrest warrant for first-degree murder in Goertzen's death. Judge David Dowd signed the warrant, allowing no bond in the case

On Thursday night, St. Louis police detectives went to the Illinois motel local police there were involved in a four-hour police standoff with Fuller.

At about 7:45 p.m. Thursday, a police tactical unit was sent to the motel, according to a police report by Creve Coeur Police Chief Pete Fisher. Five minutes later, a family member who was talking with Fuller by phone lost contact with him.

A police negotiator tried for 3 ½ hours to get Fuller to answer the phone, but he wouldn't.

Just before midnight, police in Creve Coeur sent a camera into the room. It showed Fuller moving between two rooms. A minute later, police heard one gunshot. Fifteen minutes later, the camera showed Fuller going into the motel bathroom, and two gunshots were fired. Authorities went into the motel room at 12:45 a.m. Friday and found Fuller dead.

Fuller's criminal history includes May 2010 charges of felony aggravated battery and misdemeanor domestic battery for an April 19, 2010, incident in which he cut Goertzen with a knife, court records say. The felony charge was dropped in June 2010 when he pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge. He was sentenced to three months in the Peoria County Jail.

It appears Fuller died of a single gunshot, said interim coroner Carl Powell, despite several shots reportedly being fired inside the motel room. X-rays and an autopsy set for this afternoon will pin down how many times Fuller was hit, Powell said.

Andy Kravetz of the Peoria Journal Star contributed information to this report.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect age for Goertzen and an incorrect detail about the crime scene, both provided by police. This version has been corrected.

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