Highland News Leader

Police: Arrest made in SIUE student’s murder

Major Case Squad Deputy Commander Tim Fagan announces at noon Wednesday that Taylor Clark’s death was a homicide. The 19-year-old from St. Jacob was found dead at a truck driver training school in Hazelwood, Mo.
Major Case Squad Deputy Commander Tim Fagan announces at noon Wednesday that Taylor Clark’s death was a homicide. The 19-year-old from St. Jacob was found dead at a truck driver training school in Hazelwood, Mo. News-Democrat

The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis announced Wednesday night the man who was arrested in connection with the murder of college student Taylor Clark, 19, of St. Jacob met with Clark to talk about the car he was selling.

Capt. Tim Fagan, deputy commander of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis, said 24-year-old Michael Gordon arranged to meet with Clark during the lunch hour and test-drive the car Clark had posted for sale on Craigslist.

“(Gordon) is also an employee of the MTC truck driver training center where (Clark) and his vehicle were located,” Fagan said. “Taylor was shot one time by Mr. Gordon. Taylor was then taken to an area just adjacent to where he was shot at the base of a wooded area. There was an attempt to cover him in some way.”

Gordon, of the 4500 block of Mardel Drive in St. Louis, was being held in the St. Louis County Jail on $1 million bond.

Police located Clark’s body shortly after finding his car Tuesday afternoon in the parking lot of the driver training center in the 12000 block of Missouri Bottom Road in Hazelwood. A ping from Clark’s cell phone indicated he had been near the St. Louis Outlet Center, less than two miles from where his body was found, at 11:37 a.m. Monday.

Clark was reported missing Monday night after last being seen by his girlfriend. Clark stopped in to see her at work in Glen Carbon around 10:30 a.m. He’d just taken his last exam of the semester at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Fagan said investigators now were searching Wednesday night for Gordon’s car, a red 1990 BMW 325i with Missouri license plate FL329K. He said the investigation was continuing but that there was nothing to indicate anyone else other than Gordon was involved in the murder.

Gordon was arrested on a warrant for first-degree murder, police said during a press conference outside the Hazelwood, Mo., police department Wednesday night.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Fagan said investigators were “talking to many, many people” and looking for footage from any surveillance cameras that may have captured evidence.

Fagan said police are following multiple leads in the case.

“We’re looking into everything at this point in time,” Fagan said. “Certainly the Craigslist ad is of great concern to us, and we’re investigating it.”

GUESTBOOK: Offer your condolences to Taylor Clark’s family

Fagan would not confirm reports that there was blood in the 2007 Nissan 350ZX which Clark was attempting to sell online.

Fagan said authorities are looking into the possibility that Clark wasn’t alone.

“We’re looking at the possibility that there was someone with him,” Fagan said. “We have a number of active leads that we are currently working.”

Police asked that anyone with information about the case call police at 314-513-5225. “We’re hoping that someone saw something that will help us,” Fagan said.

Friends and relatives of Clark, a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, have expressed condolences on social media. The Troy convenience store where Clark worked put a message on its outdoor sign: “Forever in our hearts Taylor.”

Darrell Meek, a manager at the ZX convenience store in Troy, said Clark has been a dependable employee there.

“He would dance behind the counter,” Meek said. “The customers loved him. His co-workers loved him. You won’t find anyone to say a bad thing about him.”

Meek has known Clark since they were children.

“He was a great kid. Just a typical college kid,” Meek said.

Meek has two children, ages 10 and 14. “They got extra hugs last night,” Meek said.

The mood was somber in the convenience store Wednesday morning. One worker was crying.

A man who answered the door at the Clark family’s home Wednesday morning politely told a reporter he wasn’t ready to comment.

St. Jacob Mayor Rich Schiefer said the community is saddened.

“It’s just something you don’t want to hear,” he said.

A Taylor Clark memorial page was created on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Taylor-clark-memorial/566454060160107?sk=timeline. It has 7,700 likes.

St. Jacob Police Capt. Jeff Souders commended Madison County sheriff’s detectives for their work. Souders said investigators pursued the case aggressively because it seemed odd for Clark to go missing.

“He took his finals. He paid for the next semester of classes in full, then he went and took a soda to his girlfriend. There was nothing about that that made it look like he ran away,” Souders said.

Fagan said the investigation has shown Clark was “by all accounts a very good young man, quality person, college student, who unfortunately fell victim to a tragic event.”

Madison County Sheriff John Lakin said Clark resided with his parents in St. Jacob.