Parolee goes on rampage from wheelchair, back in jail for 4th murder

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A St. Louis man who was out of jail on parole after serving extended time for the murder of three people in the 1970s, has committed murder again, this time shooting a woman he believed stole from him.

It is questionable why 79-year-old Torrence C. Epps was paroled at all since he’d been allowed release in 1988–after serving 14 years in prison–and ended up escaping his halfway house and becoming a fugitive for 8 years. When captured, he went back to prison and was paroled again in 2003.

Then, earlier this year, he demonstrated the behavior of a madman, rolling his wheelchair through his own housing complex at Lafayette Towne senior center, shooting a gun wildly and claiming one of the employees had robbed him.

Torrance C. Epps, 79, pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge of second-degree murder, assault, two gun charges and two counts of armed criminal action.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Dennis Schaumann accepted terms of a deal with prosecutors and sentenced Epps to 18 years in prison.

The judge asked Epps to explain why on Jan. 19 he rolled his wheelchair through the Lafayette Towne senior center housing complex where he lived, shooting at people and killing Tiandra Johnson, 32, in the complex’s office.

He claimed he saw Johnson watch him leave earlier that day and suspected her of entering his apartment with a backup key from the office to steal from him.

“It was my life savings,” Epps said from his wheelchair Monday.

“Is that a reason to shoot somebody?” Schaumann asked.

“I was awfully upset,” Epps said. “I’m awfully sorry.”

Epps told Schaumann he had “no doubt” about pleading guilty. After the judge read each charge, Epps responded emphatically, “Guilty as charged.”

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