George Bricking Jr. probably thought it was going to be another day at his job making hamburger patties Thursday, until St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson and deputies showed up with a first-degree murder warrant for him.
Watson and his deputies arrived at Holten Meats in Sauget about 9:15 a.m. to pick up Bricking, 53, in connection with the murder of Christine Foster, 35, of Collinsville, whose partially clothed body was found in a drainage ditch by a man walking his dog on Dutch Hollow Road off Illinois 161 near Belleville on May 20, 1995.
They went to the human resources' manager's officer and asked for Bricking, Chief Investigator Scott Weymouth said. He was cuffed in the hallway, Weymouth said, and offered no reaction or resistance.
"We are praying for the Bricking family," said Kay Bridges, Foster's sister. "We are sure they are sad ... but George has walked around for 17 years. He needs to pay for his sins."
This is the second cold case in St. Clair County in less than a week where an arrest has been made.
Foster was last seen outside the Downtown Abbey on East Main Street in Belleville just after the 2 a.m. closing time when a fight broke out in the parking lot. Bricking told police he pulled his motorcycle to the curb to watch when Foster asked him for a ride home.
Foster's blood alcohol level at her autopsy was 0.371 -- more than four times the legal .08 limit to drive. In her right hand, Foster clutched a man's ruby ring. Bricking told police that he had a "similar" ring, but it went down the drain a few days after the murder.
Bricking was arrested but was released after a grand jury twice declined to indict him. He moved to Texas, but later returned to Belleville.
A search warrant was issued in the case last year.
Sheriff's department investigators re-interviewed a handyman, who came to repair the sink in the house Bricking shared with his mother. They also reinterviewed Bricking's mother Jeannette Yarber, who told them she still has the receipt for the ring at her house. The receipt was collected as evidence and was tested for DNA.
The search warrant also requested investigators be allowed to photograph the drain and seize the gooseneck portion for evidentiary purposes.
Investigators also obtained a buccal swab of the inside of Bricking's mouth, yielding DNA material that can be compared against the crime scene including the ring, blood from her clothing and skin found under her fingernails.
On Friday, Carlos Garrett, 51, was arrested in connection with the murder of 16-year-old Nicole Willis, who was found beaten and raped in a vacant lot in Centreville on Oct. 4, 1989. He was scheduled for release from the Illinois Department of Corrections where he served six years on a Montgomery County drug case.
Before he was released on parole, Illinois State Police picked him up in connection with Willis' death. He was transferred to the St. Clair County Jail, where he is being held on a $1 million bail.
Willis' grandfather found her partially nude body the next morning in an empty lot at 215 N. 69th St. -- about a block from her home. She had been beaten and sexually assaulted.
Willis last seen the day before walking home on a Tuesday afternoon after she got off a Bi-State bus at the intersection of 68th and State streets.
"Technology, persistence and hardwork means that justice delayed is not justice denied in these cases," said St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly at a news conference on Thursday afternoon.
He was flanked by police who worked on the Willis and Foster cases and the families of the victims.
Bricking ended his day at the St. Clair County Jail, where he will remain until after he is tried in Foster's murder unless he posts $1 million bail. His evening meal was turkey, rice and gravy.
Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2570.