A 25-year-old suspected serial killer has been charged with two of six murders he is allegedly connected to in St. Louis and Kansas City, according to local police.
Perez Reed, whose photo shows he sports a crescent tattoo between his eyes, was stopped by authorities as he got off a bus Friday night after police tied his cellphone picked up at a crime scene to an Amtrak ticket he purchased.
St. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK reports the victims of the murders and random non-fatal shootings were mostly women involved in the sex industry and people who may have been part of the cities’ transgender community.
The attacks took place between September and late October and include one shooting in the city of St. Louis, two murders in St. Louis County, and two murders in Kansas City, Kansas—all committed with the same .40 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol, police say. The first murder victim was a 16-year-old girl who was killed on Sept. 13, a few days after she was reported as a runaway.
So far, Reed has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree assault, and three counts of armed criminal action, according to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell’s office as reported in local media. Reed has also been charged with one federal count of transporting a firearm across a state line with the intent to commit a felony.
The killings in Kansas City took place in a high-rise apartment complex in two separate units. Police say Reed wore the same shoes to both murders and then kept them on at further crime scenes, which led police to search local phone networks to look for a cellphone connection.
When they reportedly found his phone number had been used in both locations, they were able to trace the number to an Amtrak ticket he purchased to return home from St. Louis to Kansas City. Police followed him when he got off the train and onto a bus in Independence, Missouri, where he was arrested.
He was wearing the shoes tied to multiple crime scenes and had the gun used in all the alleged murders and shootings on him, officials say.
Most of the alleged non-fatal shooting victims were women who were known sex workers. At least two of the surviving shooting victims were members of the trans community, police say. At least one non-fatal shooting victim was a man who fit neither category and was struck at random while waiting at a bus stop. Police have not announced a motive but say they do not believe any of the victims knew each other or Reed, who did not have a substantial criminal record but who had been arrested for petty crimes in the past.
The oldest known victim is a 49-year-old woman who was shot in the street and later died in a hospital on Sept. 16. Three days later, a 24-year-old man was found dead in a vacant lot.
Ten days later, on Sept. 26, police were alerted to an area in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police computer program ShotSpotter, which tracks gunshots in high-violence areas, pinged authorities. There, a 40-year old man was found dead in the street.
On Nov. 1, police found the bodies of a 35-year-old man and 25-year-old woman in the high-rise apartment that led them to break the case. Police found another deceased person in the complex, but say they later attributed that death to natural causes. On Sunday night, residents of the apartment complex released balloons to honor the dead just as charges were filed against Reed.
Reed, whose 26th birthday is Wednesday, is being held on cash-only bond of $2 million. Police are expected to give a press conference Monday in St. Louis.