Prosecutors filed first-degree murder charges Wednesday in a 1996 cold case involving the death of a woman in Andrew County.
Former St. Joseph resident Michael Wilson, 55, faces a charge of first-degree murder, and in the alternative, second-degree murder, as well as first-degree robbery in the strangulation death of Therese Campen. The state also charged the defendant as a prior and persistent offender.
Steven Stevenson, Andrew County prosecutor, announced the charges Wednesday.
The 36-year-old woman from Raytown, Mo., had picked up Mr. Wilson at a Raytown McDonald’s back in February 1996. Ms. Campen had been driving a boyfriend’s car.
At the time of the murder, law enforcement officers described the car as a turquoise or teal 1982 Oldsmobile Omega with Missouri license RKM 203, belonging to Dallas Stearns of Raytown, Mo. That vehicle was left by Mr. Wilson in Columbia, Mo., according to the defendant’s confession statement.
The pair ended up north of St. Joseph, on Andrew County Road 370, near the Amazonia Cemetery.
Mr. Wilson confessed that once he knew Ms. Campen was a prostitute, he planned to kill her. He handcuffed his victim and strangled her with a rubber hose, according to his confession.
Dragging the victim out of the car, Mr. Wilson confessed that he thought he broke her neck. He drug the body into the woods near the cemetery. To make sure the victim was dead, he broke a cemetery tombstone, then dragged the chunk of tombstone into the woods and threw it at the victim’s head.
The defendant is a state prisoner at the Eastern Reception Diagnostic Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Mo., on convictions of rape, armed criminal action, sodomy, robbery, felonious restraint and assault. He said he confessed in order to put the case behind him and to give closure to the victim’s family.
The Andrew County Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol have continued to investigate leads in the case. Since the initial interview, law enforcement agencies have been re-examining all of the forensic evidence to make sure that nothing was left to chance.