Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Two Who Jumped to Their Deaths off St. Louis Bridge Were Looking for 'Fun'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Two Who Jumped to Their Deaths off St. Louis Bridge Were Looking for 'Fun'

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * Jim Monroe Jr. had just hiked 600 miles of the Appalachian Trail before arriving in St. Louis.

Timothy Liebl hitchhiked and hopped trains to get here from Barstow, Calif.

On July 21, Monroe, Liebl and two other self-described vagabonds and adrenaline junkies hatched a plan to jump off the Eads Bridge for fun.

One of those four, William McGarry, 50, of Anaheim, Calif., told the Post-Dispatch on Friday that he had done the math on the jump making measurements and calculating the velocity the men would reach before they hit the water. He said he even dropped a heavy construction cone to help calculate the current.

McGarry said that the men planned out the jump, talking about it for about two hours beforehand.

Monroe, 41, and Liebl, 34, made the jump about 9:30 p.m., McGarry said, and surfaced quickly.

"They were whooping and hollering, having the time of their life," he said. "They were like two little kids at Disneyland for the first time. They were having fun."

But the two did not survive the swim.

On Friday, the St. Louis Fire Department recovered Liebl's body. The East St. Louis Police identified him as one of the jumpers, and said his body was found at or near the Cargill grain elevators in Cahokia.

Monroe's stepmother, Nancy C. Monroe, and his ex-wife, Jennifer Monroe, confirmed his death in interviews Friday.

St. Louis Fire Capt. Gregg Favre cautioned that it was too early to know what killed Monroe and Liebl. But, he warned, "The Mississippi River is certainly not a safe, swimmable river. It is a commercial waterway that is highly unpredictable and exceedingly dangerous."

Currents, river traffic and debris create undertows and vortexes that can suck you under, Favre said.

Liebl's mother declined to comment. Public records indicate that he hailed from Arizona. McGarry said he made the trip from Barstow with Liebl.

Monroe's Facebook pages say that he studied at what was then the International Academy of Design and Technology in Las Vegas and the University of West Georgia, and worked in Las Vegas.

Jennifer Monroe described her ex as hard-working, resourceful and devoted to his daughter but also eccentric. "He would do things just to be able to say he did it." She said Monroe was her soulmate, but she told him they couldn't be together until he dealt with some issues. He started that process with the Appalachian Trail hike, she said.

He regularly kept in touch with relatives. His last message to his teenage daughter said that he was in St. Louis, by the Gateway Arch, and was ultimately heading to Hollywood.

Both Jennifer and Nancy Monroe said that Monroe was not homeless, as officials had described the men. He has a home in South Carolina that is paid for, they said, but frequently chose a more nomadic lifestyle.

He'd hiked 600 miles of the Appalachian Trail before taking a break. …

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