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ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A man has been charged in the murder of a mother and her two daughters in a "gruesome" South City shooting in the Dutchtown neighborhood.

The scene of a fatal triple shooting Thursday morning in the 4100 block of S. Grand in the City of St. Louis. Damon Arnold / KMOV

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Officers with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department were called to a home in the 4100 block of South Grand around 7 a.m. Thursday, where they found a woman and two girls, ages 8 and 1, shot to death inside. According to St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden, the woman appears to be the girls' mother.

Family identified the woman killed as 30-year-old Kanisha Hemphill. The two girls killed are Hemphill's children, Jakari and Journee Walker.

Family identified the woman killed as 30-year-old Kanisha Hemphill. The two girls killed are Hemphill's children, Jakari and Journee Walker.

Thursday, police said said a 34-year-old man was arrested in the homicide. The following morning, authorities said Ronald Marr, of the 500 block of Robert, was arrested in Effingham, Illinois. The suspect has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of armed criminal action. 

Ronald Marr is accused of killing a mother and her two daughters inside a south St. Louis home on Feb. 4, 2021. St. Louis Police Department

According to court documents, Marr, who is Hemphill’s ex-boyfriend, was identified by a witness in a photo lineup. Following the murders, the suspect got rid of his cell phone and purchased a new one before buying a Greyhound bus ticket and leaving Missouri, officials said.

"I don't know how to feel. That was my little sister," Kezia Walker said Thursday afternoon. "She sent me a text yesterday. I was asking her what was wrong - texting back and forth because she didn't answer her phone. I texted her, if you need a break call me or drop the girls off. She was like okay, and I told her I loved her and she was like love you, too."

"This is not being investigated as a suicide," Chief Hayden said at a press conference Thursday morning. "This is being investigated as a homicide, and so again we're asking any and everyone that has any information on this situation to contact our homicide division or CrimeStoppers." 

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While addressing the media at the crime scene, Chief Hayden said it was a "very tragic situation" and a "gruesome" scene. "As you can imagine, if somebody was shot, and there's a lot of disturbing evidence inside. Very disturbing, and I'm sure it's traumatic, traumatizing to the officers that went in." 

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