A Wentzville, Mo., man with no known connection is charged with three counts of murder in the killing of Randy L. Gori, a prominent attorney who was found stabbed to death in his rural Edwardsville home Saturday night.
Gori is being described as a hero for his actions during the incident, but many specifics are not being released.
Two minors were present during the incident, police said.
Charged with three counts of first degree murder is Timothy Michael Banowetz, 28, of the 400 block of Ramblewood Way.
The deputy commander of the Major Case Squad, Capt. David Vucich of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, said the defendant’s actions appeared to be premeditated, but he refused to disclose evidence to explain that claim.
“The victim’s actions in the case most likely saved the lives of others in the household at the time of the incident,” Vucich said. The minors in the home were not injured, he said.
According to the charging documents, Banowetz bound the hands of Gori and two minors in the home before using a knife to stab Gori, killing him. Banowetz is believed to have stolen cash and two cell phones from the victims before fleeing in the stolen car.
During a press conference at the Madison County Administration Building, and while surrounded by the investigators and many of the staff members of Gori’s Edwardsville law firm, Sheriff John Lakin praised the work of police from several jurisdictions that led to the arrest of Banowetz.
Still, much remained unsaid by the authorities.
“The investigation is nowhere over. We have been unable to establish a direct connection to the victim and the defendant in this case,” Vucich said, adding the suspect is a “transient” type who led a “nomadic” lifestyle.
Eight search warrants have been executed and more can be expected, he said.
Lakin said the Madison County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call to the address, 4586 Mooney Creek Road in rural Edwardsville, at approximately 8:56 p.m. Saturday.
Upon arrival, they discovered Gori, 47, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
A vehicle described as a black 2020 Rolls-Royce SUV Cullinan was taken from the residence. The Madison County Sheriff’s Department then activated the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis.
The suspect was located in a wooded area near Gori’s home between 9 and 10 a.m. on Sunday, Vucich said. The car was subsequently located nearby, authorities said.
More than 25 investigators from different agencies are participating in the investigation and still investigating numerous leads.
Banowetz has been charged with three alternative counts of first degree murder and three counts of armed robbery, one count each for the victim and the two minors. He is also charged with one count of offenses related to motor vehicles and three counts of aggravated unlawful restraint.
State’s Attorney Thomas Gibbons expressed what many have been thinking since the case began.
“My sympathy to Randy’s family … and to the breadth of our community, so many who have benefited from his kindness throughout his lifetime,” he said. “I’m happy to inform the public that the killer has been caught but there is no celebration here.”
A person at the home called 911 to alert authorities, he said. The suspect acted alone, Vucich said.
More than 60 leads were investigated.
“This was good old-fashioned police work with persistency and dedication,” Vucich said. “I understand that we can’t undo a horrible act, but I hope the victim’s family, friends and associates find some solace in the fact that the killer was caught.”
Gibbons said First Assistant State’s Attorney Crystal Uhe will be handling the case.
“This defendant will see the rest of his life behind bars if we have anything to say about it,” Gibbons said.