Family of murdered pregnant woman suing boyfriend after 4 years and no one charged

Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 10:22 AM CST
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ST. JOHN, MISSOURI ( -- It’s been more than four years since a pregnant St. Louis County woman was murdered in her home. No one’s been charged in the case, but the woman’s family is now suing the person they say is responsible.

On Halloween night in 2017, Sarah Mason was found dead in the kitchen of the St. John home she shared with her boyfriend. Sarah was almost eight months pregnant with a daughter she named Milanie.

“Every day is just trying to move forward because there is no joy and it is hell,” said Sarah’s mom Karen Mason. “It was like my heart just exploded and I can’t put the pieces together.”

It would take weeks for investigators to call the case a murder, the first in what Karen Mason questions was a series of missteps by investigators.

“How did they miss this that night that they didn’t realize it was a violent crime?” Karen Mason asked.

Years passed without anyone being charged, now Sarah’s family is done waiting. Karen Mason and her son Andrew are taking who they say is the killer to court.

“We know, but it’s a matter of getting this person behind bars,” Andrew Mason said.

The family filed a “Petition for Wrongful Death and Damages.” According to the lawsuit, Sarah and her baby were killed by Sarah’s boyfriend, who was “the father of her unborn child.”

News 4 Investigates is not naming Sarah’s boyfriend since he’s not been charged criminally. Sarah’s boyfriend hasn’t responded to the Mason’s lawsuit and never returned News 4 Investigates’ requests for an interview.

According to the lawsuit, Sarah’s boyfriend “intentionally took her life in their kitchen that evening by shooting her in the back of the head with a small caliber pistol.” The suit goes on to claim Sarah’s boyfriend, “then went about covering up the crime in order to make the incident look like an accidental injury.”

“It was very clear it wasn’t an accident,” Andrew Mason said.

St. John Police say Sarah’s boyfriend called 911, claiming he found her on the ground bleeding from her head.

The Masons say the night of Sarah’s death, police never said anything to them about the case being a murder.

“That night actually they were thinking maybe it was something to do with the baby maybe she’d had an embolism,” Karen Mason said.

The St. John Police Department’s incident report notes it was a “sudden death,” but neither shooting or murder are mentioned.

It’s something the Masons bring up in their suit saying, “the local police agency did not follow proper protocol and did not investigate this matter as a crime, but rather investigated the crime as an accident (as per [Sarah’s boyfriend’s] assertions following the crime and leading up to the discovery of the body).”

The lawsuit goes on to say Sarah’s boyfriend told police that, “he did not know what happened to Sarah Mason and that she must have fallen and hit her head. As a result, the police did not conduct a proper criminal investigation, failing to test [Sarah’s boyfriend’s] hand for gunshot residue and failing to conduct forensic tests that could have aided in the identification and capturing Sarah Mason’s killer, [Sarah’s boyfriend].”

In their suit the Masons claim, “the coroner notified law enforcement that the cause of death was a bullet wound to the back of Sarah Mason’s head, and not an accidental fall.”

News 4 Investigates asked the County for that coroner’s report, but was told it’s confidential because the case is still open.

“When I got the news that they found a bullet in her head, I was not prepared for that,” Karen Mason added.

It would take another year for St. John Police to make an arrest in July 2018. St. John Police recommended charges, which then St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch declined.

Almost a year later St. John Police recommended charges again, this time with a different prosecuting attorney in office. The new prosecutor, Wesley Bell, also refused charges, citing “a lack of evidence.”

Bell’s office sent News 4 Investigates notes explaining, “no witness or video evidence can put a suspect in the house,” there’s been no “admission” from the suspect, and no “murder weapon” or “shell casing” were found.

Bell declined an interview and sent a statement:

Homicides always remain open, as there is no statute of limitations. We don’t have the evidence we need to ethically charge the case and everything we say (including interviews) are evidence that can be used by defense counsel. I will not appear on camera emphasizing to any potential defendants the specific weaknesses in our case, which could also potentially be used against us in trial, if in fact, we do get new evidence to charge down the road.

“I can’t grieve, I’m still angry because the person is still out there and so it’s just a never-ending nightmare,” Karen Mason said.

News 4 Investigates also tried talking to St. John Police. Chief Robert Connell declined an interview but provided a statement saying he hopes the “family knows we haven’t given up on this case and the individual who committed this crime, we have not finished pursuing them.”

The Masons wear their feelings close. During an interview Andrew Mason wore a shirt with the words “#justicefortheMasongirls.”

“The shirt says it all,” Andrew Mason said. “It’s pretty straightforward, we need justice for the Mason girls.”

The family filled picture frames with memories of Sarah, now wondering if her smile masked what may have been going on and questioning what happened in the moments before Sarah’s death.

“I really believe she was making the break,” Karen Mason said. “When we got possession of the house, at the doorway was a box full of her prize things that she wanted to take.”

For the Masons, one thing is certain: They won’t let this case go cold.

“My daughter was violently taken from us,” Karen Mason said. “I feel like I’m a walking empty shell.”

Since News 4 Investigates started asking questions, the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office reached out to St. John Police asking if the department would like the case revisited.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) also confirmed they’re looking into the case, but can’t comment because it’s an active investigation.

The Masons hope more people will come forward with information about this case. The family is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest through Crimestoppers.