Metro-East News

Ex-husband and son of Paula Sims die in car crash in Mississippi

Robert and Paula Sims on May 9, 1989, leave defense attorney Don Groshong's office in Edwardsville with the subpoena for Paula to appear before a grand jury.
Robert and Paula Sims on May 9, 1989, leave defense attorney Don Groshong's office in Edwardsville with the subpoena for Paula to appear before a grand jury.

The ex-husband and sole surviving child of convicted baby killer Paula Sims died in a traffic crash on Saturday afternoon in Jackson, Miss.

Robert Sims, 63, and Randall Sims, 27, died when their sport-utility vehicle, a Jeep, was forced off an interstate overpass. Robert Sims was the ex-husband of Paula Sims, who was convicted of the murder of her infant daughter Heather in Alton in 1989 and hiding the death of another daughter, Loralei, three years earlier. Randall Sims was her sole surviving child.

“The whole history is sad to me. It’s very sad when people die tragically. It’s very disturbing,” said State Sen. Bill Haine, who was Madison County state’s attorney when Sims was prosecuted. “My heart goes out to Paula. The poor woman is still in jail and now will grieve the loss of her only child.”

The Sims’ Jeep was traveling south when a white Volvo clipped the back of a car, said Jackson Police Department Public Information Officer Colendula Green. The silver Jeep left a bridge and both Simses were ejected.

They were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Volvo, Yolanda McNeeley, left the scene and crashed at the bottom of an exit ramp, Green said. She was charged with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence and felony fleeing.

Paula Sims became national news after she claimed in 1986, then again three years later, that her infant daughters were taken by a masked gunman. Both were later found dead.

Sims was convicted by a Madison County on Jan. 30, 1990, on first-degree murder charges for the death of 6-week-old Heather Lee Sims. Paula Sims said the baby was taken from the bassinet by a masked gunman. Heather’s body was found six weeks later in a trash dumpster in West Alton.

Paula Sims pleaded guilty three months later to charges that she obstructed the investigation into the death of 13-day-old Loralei Marie Sims in 1986. Loralei’s body was found in the woods near the Sims’ Brighton home.

Paula Sims faced the death penalty, but jurors opted not to give sentence her to death because of lingering questions about Robert Sims’ role.

Paula Sims told the author of a tell-all book, which included accounts of her childhood sexual abuse, the death of her older brother, marriage to Robert and bouts of post-partum depression, that she drowned both Heather and Loralei.

She is serving life without parole at Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln. She is 56.

Robert Sims divorced Paula Sims shortly after she was convicted.

Randall Sims was the only surviving child from the marriage. At the time, police and prosecutors theorized the daughters were killed because Robert Sims preferred boys.

“There is no doubt that Robert was very close to Randall,” said former Alton Police Chief David Hayes, who was a detective on Heather Sims’ case. “That closeness definitely played a part in the duress Paula endured after Heather’s birth.”

Hayes and other detectives worked countless hours on the Sims cases, he said. He called the deaths of Robert and Randall Sims “shocking.”

“We felt a tremendous amount of pressure to solve those crimes,” Hayes said. “There was an incredible amount of media attention and public scrutiny.”

St. Louis County Medical Examiner Mary Case testified against Paula Sims in the Madison County murder case.

“I don’t think the Sims case was one of the biggest challenges,” Case said. “It was one of the more interesting ones. Certainly it was one that had a lot of repercussions and had a lot of interest but it wasn’t the most challenging, I believe.”

As for the deaths of Robert Sims and Randall Sims, she said, “It’s terribly tragic, I don’t know what else to say other than that.”

LINK: Photos from the Sims case