Mascoutah murder suspect was on the run from felony drug charge

News-DemocratDecember 4, 2013 

Mascoutah Police Chief Bruce Fleshren speaks about the investigation into the death of Richard A. Feldt, 59. Feldt died of multiple stab wounds. Investigators, however, are waiting for the results of an autopsy before asking for charges against a 23-year-old man who was found with the body. Feldt had taken the young man into his home because he had no place to stay.

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First-degree murder charges were filed against a man accused of stabbing to death a Mascoutah resident in the home they shared.

Joshua Rogers, who was found lounging on the sofa next to the body of Richard Feldt when police entered Feldt's house on a wellness check about 10:30 p.m. Monday, is being held in the St. Clair County Jail on $2 million bail, according to Mascoutah Police Chief Bruce Fleshren.

According to an autopsy performed Tuesday, Feldt died due to multiple stab wounds. He had been dead for more than 24 hours at the time his body was discovered, according to police.

Fleshren said investigators discovered that Rogers had an active felony warrant against him on a drug-related charge and that he was staying with Feldt, whom had taken him in many times in the past when he needed help, in effort to hide from police. He had been staying at Feldt's house at 711 E. Church St. for about the last two weeks.

Police said it was unlikely that Feldt, who friends say originally took Rogers in about three years ago to try to help him try to kick heroin, knew about the warrant.

"From what we know so far, I would seriously doubt it," Fleshren said.

Friends and neighbors said the two often argued about Rogers' drug use.

"We do not know the motive or what exactly caused the final encounter," Fleshren said in a release. "But drug abuse certainly could have played a role in the conversation."

Although some neighbors expressed concern about the potential of Rogers' friend who Feldt didn't like coming around his house being involved in the murder, Fleshren said investigators believe the suspect acted alone. No other suspects are currently being investigated, according to the chief.

In addition to the drug charge, Rogers had previous encounters with police. In 2010, he was convicted of burglary. But Fleshren said Rogers did not have a history of violent crime. A search of St. Clair County criminal records indicated that Rogers has a record of theft and burglary and in 2007 he was convicted of battery causing great bodily harm.

Neighbor Donald Kopp said Feldt had known Rogers for 20 years, dating back to the time when Rogers' mother lived across Church Street from the house where Feldt was murdered. Kopp said the pair sometimes argued. But he was shocked Monday night to see an ambulance pull up as police entered Feldt's house. Then he was horrified to hear officers yell for a person inside the residence to surrender to police.

Crystal Conklin, the manager at the Mascoutah Phillips 66 store where Feldt and often bought cigarettes, said she hadn't seen Feldt for several days when Rogers showed up at her store Monday on a bicycle and asked for cigarettes. Conklin asked Rogers about Feldt and Rogers assured her Feldt was doing well. But he had apparently already been dead for hours.

Kopp said he saw Rogers on Monday behind the wheel of Feldt's white Ford pick-up. He thought it was odd because, while Feldt helped the young man out with money, work and a place to stay, he wouldn't let Rogers behind the wheel of his truck.

St. Clair County Coroner Rick Stone said the autopsy revealed Feldt was dead 24-36 hours before his body was found. But he said it couldn't have been longer than that.

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