Metro-East News

6/22/2006: St. Louis teen surrenders at last; faces three counts of first-degree murder in brutal slaying

Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the Belleville News-Democrat on June 22, 2006

St. Louis teenager Darrell Lane on Wednesday fulfilled his promise that he would surrender to police and face three charges of first-degree murder for a brutal slaying at a west Belleville hair salon.

Twice in the past six days, Belleville Police Chief Dave Ruebhausen said Lane would surrender and waive extradition from Missouri to face the Illinois charges.

On Monday, Lane’s relatives told Ruebhausen the teen was ready to surrender — but the surrender never happened. On Wednesday, Ruebhausen again said Lane planned to surrender, adding, “This is the most optimistic I have been since the warrants were issued.”

This time, his hopes were fulfilled.

Shortly after 8 p.m., Lane arrived at the Belleville Police Station in the back seat of a blue Chevrolet Suburban driven by police. Lane met with Illinois State Police earlier in the evening, then surrendered at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis, Ruebhausen said.

Lane, 17, of St. Louis, was charged six days ago with the stabbing killings of sisters Doris Fischer, 79, and Dorothy Bone, 82, and their hairdresser Michael Cooney, 63, at Cooney’s home-based hair salon 7813 W. Main St. in Belleville.

Lane could face natural life in prison if he is convicted.

“I feel like we’ve been jerked around for the last few days,” Ruebhausen said.

The chief added: “He’s here. He’s in custody and we’re moving forward.”

At the time the triple murder charges were issued, Lane was free on bond on two counts of first-degree assault in St. Louis for an April 2005 shooting.

Ken Borici, a Pennsylvania bail enforcement officer, said Lane needed to be in custody. Borici said a 17-year-old with accessibility to guns, a violent record and who faces three murder charges that carry the possibility of life in prison without parole could be dangerous.

“At this point, what’s he got to lose?” Borici said. “He sounds like a violent kid.”

Ruebhausen echoed that sentiment.

“If he’s out on the street, he’s a risk,” Ruebhausen said.

Police from several agencies had been searching for Lane.

Last year, police sought another man in connection with the west Belleville triple murder — Samuel L. Johnson.

Johnson was convicted last year of attempted burglary for kicking in Cooney’s back door in December 2004 and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Former Belleville Police Chief Terry Delaney has called Johnson the “prime suspect” in the murders.

Ruebhausen said police suspect that Lane did not act alone in the killings, but he did not name any other suspects.

“We think there were other people involved,” Ruebhausen said.

In October, two pieces of physical evidence could not be linked to Johnson — an unidentified fingerprint in Cooney’s blood and a bloodstain containing a mixture of Cooney’s DNA and an unidentified person’s DNA.

News reports stated that a thumbprint found in blood inside Cooney’s Nissan Pathfinder belonged to a 16-year-old boy who police questioned for hours the day after the murders.

Lane lives only blocks from where Cooney’s Pathfinder was originally abandoned at Page Boulevard and North Sarah Street in north St. Louis.