News 4 Investigates: Convicted murderer on parole arrested for attacking woman outside Central West End store

A St. Louis grandmother was attacked outside a Central West End grocery store by a convicted murderer who was out on parole.
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 7:28 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A St. Louis grandmother was attacked outside a Central West End grocery store by a convicted murderer who was out on parole.

The attack is raising questions about how St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office treats victims of violent crimes. This comes amid heightened attention into Gardner’s office as the Missouri Attorney General and Governor both say it’s time for her to go.

Police records show the woman stopped at Straub’s off Kingshighway Boulevard around 8 a.m. last Thursday. According to the police report, the woman told officers she was walking into the store when she noticed a man trying to get into her car.

“She said, ‘hey that’s my car what are you doing?’ She called 911 and as she did that he rushed her, picked her up, body slammed her, kicked her, punched her, and put his foot on her neck. The only reason that she was rescued is because customers and store employees at Straub’s came out and physically took him off of her,” said the woman’s lawyer Scott Sherman.

Sherman is speaking on his client’s behalf. He said she’s afraid for her safety.

“What is this murderer doing on the streets of the city of St. Louis body slamming a 70-year-old grandmother, lifetime resident of the city, who’s going to Straub’s to buy a piece of cake?” Sherman asked.

According to police records the woman tried to find safety inside the market, but the man followed her and attacked employees who tried to help.

When police arrived, they say they found the man standing in the middle of Kingshighway Boulevard. According to police records the man appeared to be in a manic state and hit an officer in the face.

That man is 59-year-old John White Jr., he’s on parole for a 1999 murder in St. Louis County.

In the city of St. Louis when a suspect is charged in a violent crime the victim services unit, which is run out of the Circuit Attorney’s Office, is supposed to notify all victims of court hearings.

Sherman says he and his client have not heard from the victim services unit in the week since the attack.

In that time White appeared in court and was denied bond. The bond order from the judge makes it clear that the circuit attorney “has to notify any victims” of White’s next hearing.

“They still haven’t called and they haven’t called her and when we tried to get a response from them they ghosted us so what is somebody to do, what is a crime victim to do?” Sherman questioned. “We’re not asking for special treatment were just asking them to follow the law and follow the directive in the orders of the judge overseeing this case.”

News 4 Investigates reached out to the Circuit Attorney’s Office and was told they’re not doing interviews. A spokeswoman told News 4 the office contacted the other victims in this case and said victim services doesn’t contact attorneys, they contact victims.

Sherman says there’s surveillance video that shows the attack, but he hasn’t seen it and it hasn’t been made public.

News 4 Investigates reached out to Straub’s asking for the video and has not heard back.

St. Louis police release daily reports of crime in the city, this attack never made the list. When News 4 Investigates asked police why it wasn’t included, a department spokesperson said they typically include shootings, homicides, or armed robberies and they said this case was an assault where a weapon wasn’t used.

Police also tell News 4 that officers on the case are supposed to notify victims when an arrest is made. News 4 continues to ask police if that was done in this case.

When it comes to White’s parole, that’s handled by the Missouri Department of Corrections. News 4 Investigates reached out to the department spokeswoman, she has not responded.

Getting any more details about White’s murder case is proving difficult. News 4 Investigates learned White has been on parole for almost a year and a half and served 22 years of a 25 year sentence. Court records show White pled guilty to a 1999 murder in St. Louis County, but because the case is more than two decades old those records aren’t publicly available online. News 4 asked St. Louis County Circuit Court for the records and were told they are being stored off-site and it can take days to get them.

At the end of the day, Sherman says it shouldn’t be this hard to get information on a case.

“We should know if convicted murders who are paroled are walking our streets and committing other offenses before they body slam a 70-year-old grandmother,” Sherman added.

News 4 Investigates continues to ask the Circuit Attorney’s Office when they’re supposed to contact a victim for the first time.

News 4 is also working to learn more about White’s parole and will continue to reach out to the Department of Corrections.