Two held in Boken case; alumna random victim

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Two teenagers have been formally charged by the Circuit Attorney of St. Louis in the murder of Saint Louis University alumna and volleyball star Megan Boken on Aug. 18. 

Prosecutors have charged Keith Esters, 18, of St. Louis, with first-degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action and first-degree robbery; his co-defendant, Johnathan Perkins, 18, of Overland, with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and two counts of armed criminal action.

They are being held without bail in a St. Louis jail.

St. Louis police say that Esters and Perkins made plans to drive to the Central West End and commit a robbery. According to statements obtained from a witness — Esters’ girlfriend — Perkins agreed to drive Esters.

They spotted Boken, 23, talking to her mother on a cell phone and decided she would be the target of the robbery. Esters exited Perkins’ vehicle around 2:20 p.m., approached Boken, and tried to rob her of her purse and cell phone. When Boken resisted, Esters pulled a hand gun and fired it twice at Boken, striking her in the neck and chest.

She was found dead minutes later by STLPD in her car.

Eyewitnesses told investigators they observed Esters running from the scene and entering a vehicle immediately after Boken was shot. A witness positively identified Esters.

“This was a disturbing case for a lot of people because it was so random and in a part of town we normally don’t associate with crime,” Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said in announcing the charges. “But this murder was handled the same way with this police department as every other homicide. They stayed up for hours on end following every lead.”

Joyce would not comment if she would seek the death penalty, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Among the leads in the case were a cell phone left behind at the scene. Police traced the phone to a 32-year-old woman who claimed she had been robbed the week before in the Brentwood neighborhood.

According to the victim, she was approached between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m. by two armed young men who then forced her to drive to an ATM at a local bank, withdraw all her balance, and then return to the parking lot outside Whole Foods at Brentwood Square, where she had been eating lunch.

On Aug. 29, both Esters and Perkins were charged with first-degree robbery, felonious restraint, and two counts of armed criminal action in the Brentwood case.

Police notes from the Boken case were used to identify Esters and Perkins as suspects in the Aug. 12 robbery.

A memorial fund at SLU has been set up in Boken’s memory.

“Megan tragically lost her life … in a senseless crime,” University president Lawrence Biondi said. “Megan truly exemplified SLU at its best.”