"A lot of these critical investigations are very dynamic and fast-moving -- and a lot of times, the information changes," Sikeston Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden said early Saturday.
Initially Johnnie Nelson Phiffer, 18, Thomas Monroe Elery, 19, and Kena Denard Hatcher, 20, all of Sikeston were arrested on a first degree murder charge for the shooting death of Larrell C. Taylor, 25, of Sikeston. Taylor was pronounced dead at 8:56 p.m. Thursday at Missouri Delta Medical Center.
Phiffer was arrested approximately 10-15 minutes after the shooting Thursday in a red Tahoe with chrome 24-inch rims that reportedly belongs to Elery and was spotted driving in the area just prior to the shooting. Hatcher turned himself in at 7:30 a.m. Friday. Using information gathered during the investigation, DPS arrested Elery at 10 a.m. Friday on the 300 block of Luther Street.
But as additional information developed during the investigation Friday night, charges against Phiffer were dropped while Samuel D. Owens, 21, of Sikeston was arrested in conjunction with the murder, according to DPS.
"We knew a group of individuals who had gone out and were basically looking for this guy to shoot him, and we were making sure we got all the players," Juden said. "We were looking for others and we may have more additions -- and we certainly didn't think we'd get a deletion -- and we did."
According to the DPS incident report, the shooting occurred at approximately 7:16 p.m. in the alley near 406 Dorothy St. and the 200 block of Ruth Street.
"We believe Mr. Taylor was with his brother walking down street when three suspects popped out from behind a dumpster," Scott County Prosecutor Paul Boyd said.
Authorities believe a single shot was fired although the weapon type has not yet been determined.
The Major Case Squad was a decisive factor in this case, according to Boyd. "It does make a difference," he said.
The investigation is continuing and additional arrests may be forthcoming, Juden said.
Owens was charged with murder in the first degree and armed criminal action. He is currently in DPS custody under $500,000 bond.
Elery and Hatcher also face the same charges and are in DPS custody. However, they are being held without bond.
First degree murder, a class A felony, can result in a death sentence or life in prison without possibility of parole.
According to Missouri's Case.net, Elery pled guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge in 2005.
Elery and Hatcher are on the docket at 11 a.m. Tuesday for an arraignment in the Associate Circuit Court Division 5. At press time, it wasn't clear when Owens would be arraigned.