ST. CLAIR COUNTY, IL - Investigators are looking into the similarities of three recent homicide cases in the Metro East in which three women were found shot to death in the past two weeks.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon (July 23), Lt. Calvin Brown, a spokesman for the Illinois State Police, said the women shared similar lifestyles, frequented the same places, and were killed in the same manner.
Brown said Illinois State Police and the East St. Louis and Washington Park police have established extra patrols in the areas. However, police refused to answer questions from reporters about whether they believed the women's deaths to be the work of a serial killer.
East St. Louis police were called to the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Belleview Street just after 4:45 a.m. on July 21 after the body of a woman was discovered just off the roadway.
Officers identified the woman as 38-year-old Amanda Legare of Belleville. She’d been shot once in the neck and was declared dead at the scene.
A friend of Legare's said she moved to the Metro East from Michigan about 10 years ago to care for her sick mother. Legare was the mother of five children, four of whom still live in Michigan with relatives.
Legare's friend said she had gotten into some trouble with the law and was living a high-risk lifestyle.
Healing Action is an organization based in south St. Louis that serves adult survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking including individuals who have engaged in prostitution, pornography, stripping, survival sex, and anyone else who has been involved in the sex trade. The organization's founding director, Katie Rhoades, said violence against women in areas near East St. Louis is often overlooked and under-reported.
"Women who are seen by society or the community as 'less than,' or they're addicts, or they're kind of 'throwaway women,' the violence can go unchecked, and it can be more extreme because the community tends to not take the violence against them as serious," said Rhoades.
Meanwhile, state police are investigating the deaths of two women found shot to death within 24 hours of each other in Washington Park. Sandra Reckmann, 49, was discovered around 5 a.m. on July 9 along a deserted stretch of 56th Street surrounded by overgrown vegetation.
Around 3:10 a.m. the following day, the body of 56-year-old Bridgett Williams was located at John Thornton Memorial Park, about five blocks away from where Reckmann was found.
Friends of Williams tell Fox 2/News 11 she was social and often walked around the neighborhood.
Investigators said Williams and Reckmann were known to hang out in the Washington Park area.
After these homicides, Rhoades said her organization will encourage the women they work with to walk in pairs or to let someone trusted know where they are.
"It doesn't matter if you meet them online or if you meet them because you're out on the streets, you just don't know what you're walking into," she said.
Anyone with information on the investigation is asked to contact Illinois State Police at 618-346-3721 or CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.