Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Suspect Charged in Killing on Bus Motive Still Mystery in Teen-Ager's Death

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Suspect Charged in Killing on Bus Motive Still Mystery in Teen-Ager's Death

Article excerpt

Two teen-age girls identified a man from Hillsdale as the gunman who got on their school bus and fatally shot a pregnant high school student after wounding the bus driver, the Post-Dispatch has learned.

The identifications - made in a police lineup Wednesday morning - helped give authorities enough evidence to charge the man.

So did the recent recovery of the murder weapon, which police say was linked to the accused killer, Malik J. Nettles, 21.

Investigators are still without a motive in the killing of Kyunia Taylor, 15, who was shot several times Feb. 29. The killer knocked on the door of the bus, asked if it was headed for Beaumont High, then opened fire.

"It's the screwiest, most baffling case I've ever been involved in," said one veteran investigator. "Nothing . . . makes any sense."

Capt. David Heath, commander of the homicide division, acknowledged that his detectives still have much work to do and many unanswered questions.

The suspect lives with two older brothers, his mother and a blind grandmother in a bungalow in the 6500 block of Mount Avenue in Hillsdale, just north of Wellston. It's a street where many of the homes have boarded windows and graffiti spray-painted on the walls.

Nettles was charged with first-degree murder in Kyunia's death and second-degree murder stemming from the death of her baby, Diamond. The baby was 10 weeks premature when she was delivered by Caesarean section after Kyunia was killed. The baby died March 23.

Nettles also was charged with first-degree assault for shooting the bus driver, Richard Lanemann, who has recovered.

Lanemann was unable to identify Nettles and has told police he doesn't think he'll ever be able to identify the man who shot him.

The girls who identified Nettles were not injured in the incident.

"I'm just praising the Lord that he was arrested and that this will soon be all over with," said Genetta Mills, Kyunia's mother. …

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