3 victims of killings linked by senselessness

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Three different recent killings across the St. Louis area have caught the attention of people ranging from a prosecutor to clergy to a funeral home director.

Funerals were Monday for 13-month-old Tyler Dasher of Affton, 17-year-old Antionette Wilkins of St. Louis and 92-year-old Arteria King, also of St. Louis.

Tyler’s mother is charged with killing him. Wilkins was shot in the back as she ran from gunfire. King was beaten to death by an intruder.

“The thing that strikes me in these three cases is the innocence of the victims involved,” St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/uJ2JzU ).

Others have noticed, too — a pastor writing an eulogy, a funeral director, a priest among them.

Joyce said the three crimes lacked the context that is all too common in killings: none of the victims was involved in drugs or gangs, they were not taking chances with their lives.

Tyler Dasher was beaten to death Tuesday. His 20-year-old mother, Christine Dasher, is charged with second-degree murder, accused of beating the child because he wouldn’t stop crying, then dumping his body in a nearby cemetery. She reported him missing, sparking a brief hunt for a kidnapper amid frenzied media attention.

Two days earlier, on Nov. 13, Wilkins was nearly in her bedroom when a bullet fired from across the street struck her, police said. Authorities do not think she was the intended target. No arrests had been made.

And on Nov. 6, an intruder beat 92-year-old King as his 90-year-old wife, under in-home hospice care, was in the next room, unable to help. The attacker sodomized the couple’s caregiver. Travon Jones, 19, has been charged.

Arteria King hung on for a week. His family said he died hours after his wife, who had Alzheimer’s disease.

“They were known as the genteel couple — tiny physically, but giants in how much they cared,” said the Rev. Noella Buchanan of St. James AME Church, who wrote the couple’s eulogy.

She wondered what could have led a young man to commit such horrific crimes.

“You do want to cry out to God, ‘Why did you let this happen?”’ Buchanan said.

She saw answers in society, in a lack of compassion for others, in a pervading selfishness.

“There is much anger, much sorrow about what happened in these three cases,” Buchanan said.

Sharon Randle Gardner, the funeral director handling Wilkins’ funeral, said she hears gunfire at all hours, especially when she turns down the TV at night. She worries about walking outside. She worries about her grandchildren.

“Unfortunately, it’s not something new,” she said.

Tyler’s eulogy is being delivered by the Rev. Patrick Hambrough of St. Mark’s Catholic Church. The eulogy talks about how no one knows God’s plan, that only when you get to heaven and see the plan can something close to understanding ever take place.

“Because,” he said, “right now I just don’t get it.”

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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