Scott McLaughlin

When Beverly Guenther got off work on Nov. 20, 2003, she was attacked on her employer’s parking lot in Earth City, a light industrial area across the Missouri River from St. Charles. Her assailant stabbed her, raped her, and took her body that night to a wooded area off South Broadway in St. Louis, near Bellerive Park.

Before her death, Guenther, 45, of Moscow Mills, Mo., had filed written statements of domestic violence in Lincoln County against a former boyfriend with whom she had broken up that summer. She wrote that she had been repeatedly harassed by phone and in person by Scott McLaughlin, and at one point, she said, he had jumped out of bushes at her on the Earth City lot. A hearing on her domestic violence allegations was set for Nov. 21, 2003, the morning after her disappeance.

On the night she disappeared, a worried neighbor at her mobile home park called her boss, who called police and they found Guenther’s pickup truck on the parking lot where she worked, along with a trail of blood. Guenther was already dead when her killer raped her, an autopsy showed.

McLaughlin, 33, of Wright City, admitted the murder in audiotaped and videotaped statements to police but never admitted the sexual assault on either an alive or dead victim. He led police to her corpse after his confessions.

Case facts courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch