BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) -- Residents in Benne Terre are struggling to come to grips with the killing of a local tattoo artist whose body was recently found in a septic tank.
Authorities on July 25 discovered the remains of 38-year-old Samuel “Tick” Francis of Cape Girardeau. He had been missing since December.
Melvin Scherrer, 49, of Bonne Terre, is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and other counts. Police believe he beat Francis with a baseball bat, taped his hands behind his back, wrapped his head in tape and took Francis from his home while the victim was still alive.
Francis’ relatives have said they suspect involvement of a motorcycle gang. Gary Francis previously said his son had traveled to Cedar Lake in St. Francois County to do some tattoo work for a gang, and had expressed concern that gang members could harm him.
Some residents of Bonne Terre told the Southeast Missourian that they’re concerned to think something so sinister could happen in their town.
“It’s scary to think things like that can happen here,” Sandy Willett said, adding that she was not aware of any motorcycle gangs in the Bonne Terre area.
“It’s just a little town with a bunch of country folk,” added convenience store worker Mike Ortmann. “It’s totally out of the ordinary.”
But news of a homicide in a small town wasn’t particularly shocking to James Montgomery, an auto body mechanic.
“I think some people might be surprised by what goes on in small towns,” he said. “Sometimes you just get mixed in with the wrong people and get in too deep.”