A geography of murder

There are some weeks, some months - actually, all of 2008 so far - in which the news seems generally more sinister and oppressive than usual.

In this particular week, the news out of St. Louis concerned the murder of an attorney, an assistant counselor for St. Louis County named Luke Meiners. According to authorities, he was killed in a house in the 5700 block of Waterman Boulevard, a house inhabited by one of the men accused of his murder. Meiners’ body was not discovered in that house, but in the woods outside Venice in Illinois.

As the linked Post-Dispatch article states, this would mark only the second time that this house on Waterman Boulevard was connected to the murder of a person whose body was removed to and found in Illinois.

That house was once occupied by a man named Curtis Thomas. In 1993, he was convicted of the decapitation of his wife, Lynn. Her body was discovered outside Litchfield, Illinois; her head was never found. It took three hours for the jury to convict Thomas, who is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. William Stage, a reporter for the Riverfront Times, published an account of the crime.

I knew Curtis Thomas once, though not well. We had what you’d call a retail relationship. Thomas used to run a newspaper/comics shop on Delmar Boulevard in University City; I think it was called “First Edition” or “Final Edition,” something like that. In those days, I was living just off Delmar and had little better to do with my money than spend it on cigarettes and Marvel Comics, and so I saw a great deal of Thomas. I remember him as sociable enough for my tastes, though perhaps a bit prickly.

In time, the shop changed hands. I moved to another apartment farther off the main drag. Life moved on, and I didn’t give Thomas a thought until he appeared in the paper, accused of having killed his wife in grisly fashion.

And I should have been happy to never think of him again, but along came this week, that house, another murder.

Speaking for myself - and keeping the very real grief of Meiners’ friends and family in mind - this has been one creepy week.

It’s a long way, I know, from reasonable and theoretical concepts like “a sense of place” to the horror story trope of homes remembering the deeds and lives that have passed through them, storing emotions and events within their very bones, imbuing the place with an essence of the past. Okay, so it’s a very long way, and superstition never looks good on anyone.

All I know is that that house on Waterman Boulevard is at the top of my list of places to avoid.


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