East St. Louis double murder38.615556 -90.127778 38.624867 -90.187644
ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – A Metro-East mother, accused of shooting and killing two of her small children, has been charged with two counts of assault and two counts of armed criminal action.
Yokeia Smith, 25, was arrested directly outside the KMOV newsroom in downtown St. Louis on Wednesday, around 6:30 p.m. after her 8-year-old son told police that his mother killed his 5-year-old brother, LeVada Brown, and 4-year-old sister, also named Yokeia Smith, in their East St. Louis home.
Officers said Smith also hit three people with her vehicle who were crossing Market Street in downtown St. Louis. On Thursday afternoon, she was charged with two felony counts of 1st degree assualt and two felony counts of armed criminal action.
Authorities in East St. Louis say this was one of the most gruesome crime scenes they have ever seen after finding the two small children inside of a Metro-East apartment. The 8-year-old child was able to escape without injury.
On Thursday, St. Clair County Coroner, Danny Haskenhoff, said the autopsy results suggest that the children were shot in the head at close range and died instantly.
A News 4 photographer was an eyewitness to the end of the search for the woman. She says she saw the driver speed down Market Street and strike a three people.
Minutes later, Smith reportedly got out of her vehicle with a loaded shotgun. Then she sat on a bench outside 1 South Memorial Drive with the shotgun. St. Louis Police arrived moments later and arrested the woman.
Police say the people who were struck are from Iowa. Their injuries are not life-threatening.
According to police records, Smith was investigated twice between December 2007 and March of 2011 by Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services on allegations of child neglect but never for reports involving physical abuse, spokesman Kendall Marlowe said. He declined to detail the claims, citing privacy laws.
Smith never lost custody of her children, Marlowe said. Police briefly took protective custody once, but DCFS did not take that matter to court because the Smith's relatives took steps to adequately ensure the children's well-being, Marlowe said.
The state agency also offered the Smith aid, but she refused it, Marlowe said. He described DCFS as "reaching out to the family and helping in whatever way we can," from February 2008 to April 2009.
Five-year-old LeVada Brown also shares his name with his father who is currently serving 13 years in a Wisconsin federal prison for armed robbery. Smith is currently being held in the St. Louis city jail. Her bond is set at $100,000, cash only.
A memorial fund has been set up for young Yokeia Smith and Levada Brown at the Associated Bank at 326 Missouri Avenue in East St. Louis, Illinois.