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Catholic Supply suspect charged in Jefferson County sexual assault case

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. - The man accused of a horrific attack at a Catholic Supply store in west St. Louis County last fall has been charged in connection with a sexual assault of an elderly woman in Hillsboro.

The Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office charged 53-year-old Thomas Bruce with first-degree burglary, first-degree kidnapping, third-degree assault, first-degree sexual abuse, and first-degree harassment in the September 27 incident.

According to court documents, the 77-year-old victim answered a knock at her door between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Bruce told her he was with AMVETS and wanted to ask her some questions. The victim declined and attempted to shut the door, at which point Bruce pushed his way inside the home and sexually assaulted her.

During the incident, the house phone rang. The victim told Bruce that it was her husband calling to say he was on his way home. Bruce allegedly told the woman he'd kill her husband when he arrived. Bruce eventually left the home.

The victim told authorities she saw Bruce's mugshot on the news following the Catholic Supply shooting and was able to identify him as the person who assaulted her.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office obtained a search warrant for a tracking device attached to Bruce's vehicle – a 2017 Kia. Investigators learned the vehicle, which was registered under Bruce's name, was at the victim's residence between 4:17 p.m. and 4:32 p.m. on the day of the assault.

Bruce remains jailed in St. Louis County for the crimes at Catholic Supply. He's facing 17 counts in that incident, including murder, sodomy, kidnapping, armed criminal action, burglary, and tampering with evidence.

Prosecutors allege Bruce walked into the Catholic Supply on November 19 and forced three women in the store into a back room where he demanded they perform sexual acts on him. He shot one woman who refused his demands. That woman, identified as Jamie Schmidt, later died at a local hospital.

Bruce fled the store after the shooting and was arrested days later at his trailer in the Quail Run Mobile Home Park in Imperial.

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