COLUMBIA — Erin Schneider, 17, died from multiple stab wounds to her upper torso and neck, an autopsy Friday revealed.
Schneider's body was discovered early Thursday afternoon in a house at 237 S. Riebeling St., which is where her ex-boyfriend, Jordan Kuykendall, 20, lived with his brother, Justin Kuykendall, 25, a registered sex offender.
The investigation into Schneider's death is focusing on a single suspect who was familiar with the girl, according to Thomas Coppotelli, deputy commander of the Major Case Squad.
'We're putting together a very good case right now," said Coppotelli, who declined to name a suspect.
Less than a month before her death, Schneider had taken out an order of protection in Monroe County against her ex-boyfriend. He was ordered to stay away from Schneider and from the restaurant where she worked.
Hours before police found Schneider's body inside the house, Jordan Kuykendall suffered serious injuries in a head-on car accident on Illinois 158. He is receiving medical treatment at an undisclosed location, according to Coppotelli.
Jordan Kuykendall has been interviewed by police, Coppotelli said.
Schneider would have been a senior this fall at Columbia High School.
Grief counselors were on hand at the high school Friday to help students, family members and community members who need grief support, said Beth Horner, assistant superintendent for Columbia Community Unit School District 4.
"She was a very good student. She was very well-liked by her peers and faculty," Horner said. "Everyone in the school community is very saddened by this loss and Erin will be missed by all."
Schneider, who did not participate in organized school activities, "kept to herself," Horner said. "Just kind of a reserved little girl, with a tight-knit, very close circle of friends."
Coppotelli declined to comment on whether there is a link between the car accident and Schneider's death, which is being investigated as a homicide.
So far no one is in custody in connection with the killing.
Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards announced during a news conference late Thursday afternoon the discovery of the body occurred after Columbia Police received a missing person report. The report was filed by the victim's mother.
Evidence led police to 237 S. Riebeling St. in Columbia, where they found the girl's body inside, Edwards said.
Neighbors said they knew little about the people who lived at the modest one-story house but agreed it was a hotbed of activity, with cars stopping there at all hours of the day and night.
Columbia Police responded with frequent patrols in the neighborhood, said Leonard DeFabio, who lives several doors down from the crime scene.
"There were just a lot of transient people," DeFabio said.
Another neighbor, Denise Kemp, said she could never be sure who was living at the house.
"Sometimes there was a woman who lived there," she said. "It was a couple of guys, then two young kids who lived there, they were like high school kids. There was a lot of stuff going on at that house."
Justin Kuykendall was convicted of criminal sexual abuse of a 14-year-old in Monroe County. He was 19 at the time of the offense, according to court records.
Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2533.