Lil Sherry Postal Carrier parade
It was during a panicked phone call home on Monday, April 22, that Andrew McKissick told his mother about the gruesome murder of his wife.
What’s more, she said he told her he did it.
“He called me that morning and said ‘Mom! Mom! I messed up. I set her on fire, Mom,’” Linda McKissick said. “I said What?! What are you talking about?! I didn’t want to believe it.”
She hasn’t spoken to him since.
According to police, Sherry Billups, 35, was doused with a “diesel fuel supplement” then set on fire. When officers arrived at 7:23 that morning, she was outside the 2015 Kia Optima covered in flames. She died near the Family Sports Park in O’Fallon, just blocks away from her home in the 600 block of West Madison Street.
She and McKissick, married for less than a month, had just returned from a weekend trip to Texas, where they had visited with an uncle. Billups was to report to work at the Collinsville Post Office, but never made it.
That stunning confession are the last words Linda McKissick has heard from her son. She has since refused phone calls from the Memphis, Tennessee, jail where, as of Thursday, he was being held on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated arson.
Andrew McKissick’s extradition to Illinois is still pending.
“I haven’t talked to him. He can’t give me a good enough reason for why he did what he did. There is no excuse. I’ve left him in God’s hands,” McKissick said through lengthy pauses to contain her emotions. “He messed up a lot of people’s lives. People say ‘that’s your son and you’re not responsible for what he did because he’s grown.’ This is true, but it just hurts so bad. Why would my child do something that gruesome?”
“I understand the pain and hurt that everybody is feeling … the anger. I loved Sherry like she was my daughter. She was nice and kind.”
The sequence of events from the morning of Billups’ death given by McKissick are consistent with those detailed by Billups’ mother, Sherry Matthews, who spoke with the Belleville News-Democrat last Thursday.
Linda McKissick was at work when her son called her to tell her what he had done. Her first call after hanging up was to her daughter. She next called “Big Sherry” Matthews, to relay the news.
“I was laying in my bed when his mom called me and asked if I heard from Andrew or Lil’ Sherry. I told her I had not. ...” Matthews said last week. “She said she was so sorry.”
She and Matthews both said that the couple had been fighting over Andrew McKissick’s jealousy, insecurity and accusations that his wife was cheating on him.
McKissick said her son “didn’t have much of a life” during the nine years he spent in prison prior to his marriage to Billups. According to St. Clair County Circuit Court records, he was charged with unlawful restraint in 2010, aggravated battery causing harm to a police officer in 2007 and aggravated battery with a firearm in 2002.
He had just recently been paroled before marrying Billups.
Still, his mother said she saw no sign that he was capable of murder.
She said “I knew he was jealous. All they argued about was over is being jealous and insecure. … Never could I have imagined he could be capable of doing anything like this.
“I don’t know what happened.”
McKissick said she’s talking publicly because she wants the community to know that she cannot support the actions for which her son has been criminally charged.
Andrew McKissick had a “normal childhood” according to his mother, who said “he was raised with manners and taught to respect others.” She said he liked football, basketball and cracking jokes.
“Andrew was a fun guy to be around,” she said.
He is the father of three children, though he has none with Billups, who had two sons of her own. McKissick’s oldest son, Linda McKissick says, “is taking it very hard. He has to go to school and try to deal with this.”
In an interview last week, Matthews said she “felt sorry” for McKissick.
“We understand each other. Both of us are hurting,” McKissick said in return.