The Major Case Squad investigation of the murder of an elderly Collinsville man has led to two arrests, six months after the squad was disbanded.
Jessie James Werley Jr., 34, of Park Hills, Mo. and Eva Deann Heisch, 45, of Farmington, Mo., each face three counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed robbery in the death of 68-year-old Daniel A. Taylor of Collinsville.
Collinsville Maj. Richard Wittenauer said Heisch was in custody in Collinsville on Monday while Werley was in custody at the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department, awaiting extradition. Their bail amounts were set at $1 million each.
Wittenauer said at least one suspect, Heisch, knew the victim and described Heisch as “a casual acquaintance” of Taylor.
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Relatives of 68-year-old Daniel Taylor found him dead in his home on Dec. 9, 2015. He had last been seen alive three days before, having lunch with family members, and it was believed he was killed the next day.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said Taylor had suffered multiple stab wounds and had his throat cut. He called the crime “brutal and heinous.” Gibbons said Heisch was employed as an exotic dancer in Washington Park and it’s believed that’s how she and Taylor became acquainted.
“This is a very sad and violent crime, a completely terrible act by these two individuals,” Gibbons said.
The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis was activated after Taylor’s death due to “suspicious circumstances” and disbanded four days later. That’s around the time when Collinsville police said both Werley and Heisch emerged as suspects.
We don’t ever give up. Sometimes it takes us longer than we like, but we don’t ever give up until we get our man, or in this case, man and woman.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons
“At that point in time, they did not quite have the evidence needed to move the case forward,” Gibbons said. “Fortunately, our men and women in law enforcement never give up... Their continued work has paid off.”
Investigators from the Collinsville Police Department continued to work the case with assistance from several other agencies. Wittenauer said more evidence was developed, leading to charges against Werley and Heisch.
Taylor was a truck driver for Frozen Food Express before he retired. He enjoyed stock car races and water skiing, according to his obituary. He was survived by his mother and two sisters.
Collinsville police thanked the Major Case Squad, Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office, Park Hills Police Department, Farmington Police Department and the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance in the case.
“I think it is an incredible testament to the dogged determination of law enforcement,” Gibbons said. “When something like this happens, the evidence doesn’t always fall into place right away. But perseverance always pays off, and aggressive law enforcement always pays off, and today’s charges are evidence of that. We don’t ever give up. Sometimes it takes us longer than we like, but we don’t ever give up until we get our man, or in this case, man and woman.”