ST. LOUIS COUNTY — Two men have been charged with the murders of five men who were found shot to death Saturday inside an apartment building in north St. Louis County.
St. Louis County police arrested the two men, Terrance Wesley, 29, and Anthony Watkins Jr., 30, late Monday. The suspects were being held without bail at the St. Louis County Justice Center on Tuesday. Through jail staffers, they declined a reporter’s request to interview them.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell lauded St. Louis County police, and praised Detective Matthew Levy for his “steadfast work” on the investigation.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Bell would not say what led up to the homicide or what the relationship was between the victims and the suspects. St. Louis County police Chief Jon Belmar stood next to Bell during the five-minute news conference, where both men took limited questions from reporters.
Belmar said the crime had an “association with drug activity.”
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment on motive, but there is an association with narcotics,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim’s families. Any homicide takes a tremendous toll on a community, and anytime we have five homicides, it’s a horrific thing.”
Bell and Belmar declined to say what led to the arrests, but Belmar said: “We do appreciate the communication we received on this from the community.” Belmar would not say whether Watkins and Wesley confessed.
The victims, Derrick Penny, 54, James Penny, 54, Rodney Holt, 37, Rondall Mullin, 65 and Ronald Brewster Jr., 40, were found dead inside a partially boarded-up apartment in the 1900 block of Chambers Road.
Brewster’s father, Ronald Brewster Sr., 68, discovered the bodies around noon Saturday, when he entered the apartment to pick up his son for a family reunion.
In an interview on Tuesday, Brewster recalled something he said he told detectives on Saturday — that as he pulled up to pick up his son, he saw a shirtless man outside a nearby service station who was “acting a fool ... jumping around and acting crazy.” He said it was a man he had seen in the neighborhood from time to time.
He said he suggested to detectives they might want to locate that shirtless man and ask him if he had seen the killers coming and going.
After seeing photos on the news of the murder suspects on Tuesday, he realized the shirtless man was Watkins. “I had no idea he was the guy who did the killing.” He said it was “senseless for them to kill with no reason.”
Brewster said he got some comfort from the idea that his tip might have helped lead police to Watkins and Wesley.
Court documents said Watkins and Wesley tried to rob the victims at gunpoint and threatened to kill them. They later returned and fatally shot the five men, the documents say.
Wesley’s criminal history includes convictions in St. Louis County for burglary and domestic assault.
In 2016, Vinita Park police say he set his girlfriend’s car on fire and he was charged with knowingly burning or exploding.
Wesley refused to leave a residence in the 10000 block of Crown Point for about three hours Monday night, creating a standoff with police who were trying to arrest him. The standoff was about a quarter mile from the crime scene.
Wesley’s family helped coax him out, police said.
Wesley was sent to prison in July 2010 and released on probation four months later. He returned to custody in 2013 and was released again in January 2014, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Watkins is from the St. Louis area. He was arrested at county police headquarters. According to court records, he has a history of drug convictions in the St. Louis area.
He pleaded guilty to drug possession in St. Louis County in 2010.
After completing his sentence in that case, he pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and possession of heroin and crack cocaine in St. Louis. An officer saw him urinating in public and went to arrest him. Watkins tried to run but was caught. The arresting officer at that time found 23 bags of crack cocaine and heroin on him, according to court documents.
He finished his probation for those offenses in October 2016, according to court documents.
Jeremy Kohler of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.