SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- A man and woman from Alabama who were already suspected of murder, kidnapping and other violent crimes in two states were charged Saturday with killing three people in a home in southwest Illinois, authorities said.
Brian Koberna, deputy commander of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis, announced nine counts of first-degree murder against Brady Witcher, 41, and Brittany McMillan, 28.
They're accused of fatally shooting Shari Yates, 59, and her 30-year-old son, Andrew “AJ” Brooks, in their home, along with another man, John McMillian, 32. Police in Bethalto, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northeast of St. Louis, discovered the bodies Thursday night after being asked to perform a well-being check.
“They executed, in essence, the individuals at that residence,” Koberna said at a news conference Saturday. “This is a brutal and heinous crime and crime spree that occurred and these individuals are evil. They're some of the most evil individuals that I've seen in my entire career."
McMillan, who is originally from Bethalto, and Witcher both live in the Birmingham, Alabama, area, Koberna said. They were initially arrested Thursday in Hazelwood, Missouri, on Alabama warrants for murder and kidnapping in the death of 31-year-old Kellie Ann Hughes.
Hazelwood police moved in after authorities in Tennessee passed on a tip that two people wanted for a series of violent crimes there were hiding at an area hotel. Police identified the pair as Witcher and McMillan after finding a car outside the hotel registered to Yates at the Bethalto address.
The nine counts of murder represent different legal theories under which prosecutors believe the pair acted, with Witcher allegedly pulling the trigger in each of the deaths, said Madison County First Assistant State's Attorney Crystal Uhe. She claimed McMillan and Witcher were familiar with the Bethalto victims and intended to rob the home.
“This was not a random act .... The victims that lived at the Mill Street address did know both defendants through the course of the past couple of years,” Uhe said without elaborating. “Miss McMillan is from the Bethalto area and it is believed that she did know at least one of the victims.”
In addition, both Witcher and McMillan were charged with armed robbery and aggravated vehicular hijacking. Witcher also faces a charge of possession of a firearm as a felon.
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