Hero paramedic who saved baby from Silver Lake has press conference
The husband, whose body was found in the burning house, died of a gunshot to the head. The mom’s official cause of death was drowning and exposure to the elements.
The hero paramedic who rescued the baby from the mom’s nearly-submerged SUV met with reporters. He recalled how he swam to the vehicle after he stripped off his clothes and told other emergency workers, “I’ll go.”
Those were some of the new developments Friday in the deaths of Cristy Campbell and her husband, Justin Campbell.
But several questions remained unanswered, including the big one: Why?
Justin Campbell, whose body was found Thursday morning in his burned home, died of a gunshot, Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn said Friday.
The body of Justin Campbell, 37, was found Thursday morning after a fire at the home he shared with his wife and seven children at 15 Dogwood Lane in Glen Carbon.
No bullet was found at the scene or during an autopsy, according to Nonn’s office.
Cristy Campbell, 32, died Thursday morning after driving her Nissan Armada into Silver Lake in Highland.
“Ballistics comparison with the weapon recovered from Cristy Campbell’s submerged vehicle at Silver Lake will not be possible,” a news release from Nonn’s office stated.
Cristy Campbell died of environmental exposure and drowning, according to preliminary findings of the coroner’s office. Her body was pulled from the lake Thursday afternoon.
In the meantime, investigators Friday continued trying to piece together what happened.
“There’s a lot to look through,” said Madison County Sheriff’s Capt. T. Mike Dixon. “We don’t have all of the information, and everything isn’t known at this point in time.”
An attorney who represented Cristy Campbell three years ago in a child-neglect case said none of the details fit with the woman he represented.
“When I represented her, she was contrite, concerned, and she was polite — seemed like a caring mother,” Glen Carbon attorney Todd Taplin said. “This is a complete shock. I think it’s a complete shock to everybody.”
When I represented her, she was contrite, concerned, and she was polite — seemed like a caring mother. This is a complete shock. I think it’s a complete shock to everybody.
Attorney Todd Taplin, represented Cristy Campbell
Cristy Campbell’s Facebook page includes multiple posts about her seven children who all survived the deaths of both their parents. There are several posts about her family, including vacation pictures, children performing well in sports, one child getting braces and one child receiving a Do The Right Thing award.
Dixon said the answers might never be fully known.
“There are a lot of questions, including the ‘why,’” he said. “That might be something that we always have to speculate on — we may never know the answer as to ‘why.’ Homicide never makes sense, if that’s what this is.”
There are a lot of questions, including the why. That might be something that we always have to speculate on — we may never know the answer as to why. Homicide never makes sense, if that’s what this is.
Madison County Sheriff’s Capt. T. Mike Dixon
Firefighters were called about 5:30 a.m. to a blaze at Cristy Campbell’s home at 15 Dogwood Lane in Glen Carbon after children who resided in the home ran to a nearby Walmart for help. Six children who were in the home escaped unharmed. Justin Campbell’s body was found inside.
A little later Thursday morning, a witness saw a Nissan Armada go into Silver Lake outside Highland.
Sheriff John Lakin, at a news conference Thursday afternoon, said police had been called to the home about 50 times, for matters ranging from barking dogs to 911 hang-ups and domestic disputes.
Dixon said those calls are part of the investigation.
“Obviously, we’re looking into those issues to see if there’s some kind of motivating factor there,” he said. “We’re looking at everything.”
Dixon said police have not been made aware of any health problems for Cristy Campbell.
“As far as mental health, who knows. That’s something we may never know,” he said. “I don’t know that she’s seen a doctor for anything like that. But it’s something that will be looked at and asked about, I’m sure.”
As far as mental health, who knows. That’s something we may never know. I don’t know that she’s seen a doctor for anything like that. But it’s something that will be looked at and asked about, I’m sure.
Madison County Sheriff’s Capt. T. Mike Dixon
Dixon said 15 or more investigators continued working on the case Friday.
“Just to get the answers — to confirm absolutely that, yes, there is no longer any threat to the public,” Dixon said. “Everybody’s working hard to get the answers.”
Taplin represented Cristy Campbell in 2014, when she was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly allowing a 5-year-old child to leave their home unattended. The charges were dropped after she completed parenting classes.
Taplin said he couldn’t discuss specifics of the case, but said Cristy Campbell “had a pretty good defense for that.”
Taplin said his knowledge of Cristy Campbell is only through the court case, but he said he recalls her as “quite different from what’s being presented in the press in these articles.”
Funeral arrangements for both Justin and Cristy Campbell were pending Friday.
They are survived by the seven children. Six of the children escaped the house fire on Thursday morning. The seventh — the 3-month-old baby — was pulled from the vehicle that went into Silver Lake by Highland paramedic Todd Zobrist. Zobrist performed CPR on the baby before the infant was taken to a St. Louis hospital. The baby was expected to be released from the hospital Friday.
News-Democrat reporter Jamie Forsythe contributed to this report.