Woman accused of fatal store stabbing arrested days before
BRECKENRIDGE HILLS, Mo. (AP) — Police in two St. Louis suburbs had arrested a Tennessee woman twice in the days before she allegedly stabbed a stranger to death inside an area store.
St. Ann police arrested Cameka Cathey for fleeing from officers investigating a call about a suspicious vehicle on Saturday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Cathey, 34, was released and arrested hours later by Breckenridge Hills police for allegedly stealing a vehicle from an auto shop.
Both arrests occurred just days before Tuesday’s fatal attack at a Family Dollar store in Breckenridge Hills. Cathey was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the death of 65-year-old Marybeth Gaeng.
Authorities in a probable cause statement claimed Cathey grabbed two knives from a store shelf, approached Gaeng and stabbed her in the head. Gaeng later died at a hospital.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said that Gaeng might still be alive if the St. Ann and Breckenridge Hills officers who arrested Cathey had applied for warrants against her.
St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez said his department decided to release Cathey because the prosecutor’s office doesn’t prioritize warrants for nonviolent car thefts.
“That is the warrant system in St. Louis County,” Jimenez said. “Unless there is a violent crime or serious injury involved, they don’t issue warrants right away. This right here is exactly what happens when we’re not able to get warrants issued right away.”
But McCulloch rebuked Jimenez’s statement, saying no one from the St. Ann Police Department had applied for warrants against Cathey on Saturday. He said the office has a prosecutor on duty at all times so that officers can apply for warrants when they have an individual in custody.
“No other police departments seem to have a problem,” McCulloch said.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com