07/16/2013

Missing Mo. woman found dead in unmarked squad car

The officer assigned to the black, unmarked 2012 Chevrolet Caprice opened the door and immediately smelled, then found, the woman's body

By Joel Currier and Valerie Schremp Hahn
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

BRECKENRIDGE HILLS, Mo. — A woman was found dead Monday inside an unmarked Breckenridge Hills police car, authorities say.

Police identified the woman as Leslie Wehmer, 41, of the 9500 block of Edmund Avenue in unincorporated St. Louis County near Breckenridge Hills. She was reported missing Saturday by her boyfriend after she left their home intoxicated, police said.

A Breckenridge Hills officer reporting to duty just before 8 a.m. Monday found the woman inside the cruiser at the police station, police said. It was not immediately clear how she died.

The officer assigned to the black, unmarked 2012 Chevrolet Caprice opened the door and immediately smelled, then found, the woman's body.

Wehmer's body was slumped in the back seat below the level of the tinted windows, Police Chief Perry Hopkins said.

The officer was in training last week, so the car hadn't been driven since July 4, Hopkins said. Police went into the car Thursday to retrieve a laptop.

"Anyone who's smelled the odor of death knows exactly what that smells like," Hopkins said.
He said police believe Wehmer crawled into the unlocked car sometime over the past several days.

He said police have learned she argued with her boyfriend late late last week and "stormed off."

The boyfriend, Dave Childs, 55, said in an interview with a reporter that he last saw Wehmer late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning and that they were arguing because of her alcohol-induced hallucinations. She had suffered from a couple of alcohol-related seizures earlier in the week, according to police.

Childs told police she often wandered off but returned home or called within a few days.
He said a friend spotted her Thursday morning knocking on a car window nearby.

A friend of Wehmer's saw her Sunday when Wehmer was apparently intoxicated and knocked on her friend's door.

The friend wasn't alarmed by Wehmer's behavior because Wehmer was frequently intoxicated and seemed confused, police said.

Childs said he is puzzled by what could have happened. Wehmer suffered from nerve damage because of her drinking, he said, and couldn't have walked as far as the police department, even though it is within half a mile of her home. He wonders why the cruiser was left unlocked.

Despite her struggles with alcohol, Childs described Wehmer as funny and good-natured. They had lived together for eight years.

"It's really sad, and I don't even know how to feel," he said. "I don't know if it's sunk in yet. You see somebody one day, and the next day, they're gone."

Copyright 2013 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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