Police investigate after body found in East St. Louis apartment
A woman who recently moved from Belleville into an East St. Louis public housing development with her baby was killed by someone who broke a window to get into her apartment early Tuesday.
Metal security screens covered windows at the apartment block, but the screen was missing and the window shattered at the back of the victim’s apartment. Alexis S. Winston, 23, was found dead from apparent gunshot wounds upstairs when East St. Louis police responded at 4:04 a.m. Tuesday for a home invasion report at Apartment 38E of the John Robinson Homes public housing complex, police say.
Winston was on the phone with 911 dispatchers telling them she heard an intruder breaking into her house, East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Hubbard said. He said officers arrived within four minutes of her call, but found her dead upstairs.
Investigators from the Greater St. Louis Major Case Squad were called in to investigate. They canvassed the neighborhood and appeared to be searching the ground for bullet casings.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Service took Winston’s 1-year-old daughter into custody.
Winston was scheduled to be in court Wednesday in a family case involving her daughter, Royal Spencer, who was born Jan. 27, 2016. Winston asked for a paternity test to prove who the father is, and for child support payments, according to court records. The man she named as the father failed to show for the test May 18, according to the records, and was set to answer a petition for sanctions Wednesday morning before Circuit Judge Steven McGlynn.
After the killing on Tuesday morning, neighbor Beverly Nelson tried to comfort the child with snacks and juice.
“I filled her juice cup up. She had red juice that she must have had before she went to bed,” Nelson said.
She said Winston moved in about four months ago with her baby girl. “I saw them catching the bus together a couple times. She was quiet.”
Nelson introduced herself and said the young woman was glad to move into the complex, which she said was usually quiet.
“I hate for something like this to happen to her.”
East St. Louis Housing Authority Chief of Public Safety Cortez Slack said he did not know why the security screen was off the windows at Winston’s apartment.
Winston’s body remained in her apartment at 10:30 a.m., with the coroner waiting for crime scene investigators to complete their work. Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. released Winston’s identity and said an autopsy had yet to be scheduled.
Winston’s Facebook page stated she attended Cahokia High and Belleville West, and recently lived in Belleville. She was proud of her baby girl and multiple posts discussed romance and being a single mom.
Investigators announced no arrests or suspects as of 5 p.m. Tuesday. Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-8477 to be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 if the tip leads to an arrest.