Police frustrated that criminal with prolific record keeps walking free


by Maggie Crane / News 4


Posted on November 21, 2012 at 9:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 21 at 10:45 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Police say a ringleader of a notorious St. Louis gang is back on the street, and his criminal record is only going to grow.

Officials say they have arrested Jesse Hampton for 40 felonies in St. Louis, including murder.

“With all the crime going on and you have the same repeat offenders coming out and doing the crimes after we put them away, it’s a little frustrating,” St. Louis Metropolitan Police Lt. Joe Morici said.

Rarely have police ever been so frank about someone they’ve arrested.  They say Hampton is extremely dangerous, responsible for calling the shots and influencing his gang members to commit crime.

A car chase followed by a crash with cops sent Jesse Hampton back to jail last week, but he’s out... again.  Police say they caught Hampton driving a stolen BMW—something they say he’s been doing since before he was even old enough to drive.

“He’s been high-speeding in stolen cars since he was 15 years old,” Lt. Morici said.  “He would sell cars and bring them to a chop shop where they’d retag the cars.”

That’s what landed Hampton on detectives’ radar.  And in the past four years, he’s racked up 40 felony arrests in the city.

“He’s kind of escalated from stealing the cars, to car clottings, to robbery, to possession of firearms,” Lt. Morici said.

Police say Hampton then escalated to killing.  Hampton was charged with first-degree murder in 2010, but by February this year, he was released.  Charges apparently have been dropped.

“I have no idea how he’s out,” Lt. Morici said.  “He was arrested for it and he was in jail, so I thought he’d be out of the box for quite some time, but he’s obviously back at it.”

Hampton appears to pull a Houdini.  Police can’t keep him behind bars long.  Despite arrests for charges stemming from theft to murder, he only has four criminal convictions as an adult.

“I don’t know how or when he’s going to stop,” Lt. Morici said.  “I think he definitely needs to be locked down for quite some time.”

News 4 still has a lot of questions about how Hampton is still on the street even though police continuing to lock him up.  The Circuit Attorney’s office closed early Wednesday, but we’ll continue to investigate this case after the holiday.