By Echo Menges
Long time residents of Knox County have been reeling over the murder of Edina native, Carmelita Kaser, 92, of Moberly who died on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013.
Her accused killers are Jeffrey J. Nichols of Moberly and Christopher D. Lewis of Macon, both of whom have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in Randolph County.
According to court documents and published reports, a “crime spree” ensued in Moberly on Easter Sunday involving the two suspects.
First, earlier in the day, law enforcement officials in Moberly were called to a shoplifting incident at the Moberly Wal-Mart, which Nichols and Lewis are believed to have stolen a “machete like” knife from the store.
Later the same day law enforcement was called to the report of a vehicle on fire, then to the report of two gunshot victims whose vehicles were stolen and, not long later, two other people came forward. One reported being beaten before the suspects stole her vehicle. The other reported being robbed by the suspects.
Further investigations to locate the owner of the burned vehicle revealed the body of Mrs. Kaser who was found at her home, 401 Morehead in Moberly.
When arriving on scene, officers found her door open and items inside the residence thrown around. Further investigation revealed the body of Kaser and a large wound on the left side of her neck believed to be caused by a sharp object.
Court documents state Nichols and Lewis admitted they went to Mrs. Kaser’s home to steal money from the elderly woman and admitted that they struck her in the neck with the machete like knife, struck her with the butt of a pistol and left her for dead.
The Moberly Police Department, Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Chariton County Sheriff's Office, Huntsville Police Department and Macon Police Department were, at one point or another, involved in investigating the incidents and arresting the suspects at a residence in Macon at approximately 10:00 a.m. Monday morning, April 1, 2013.
The details of the incidents before and after Kaser’s death are riddled with tragic circumstances.
At this time very little is known about 18-year-old Christopher Lewis.
But since the Easter tragedies in Randolph County, much has been learned about Jeffrey Jay Nichols, 22, of Moberly.
According to information obtained by The Edina Sentinel, Nichols was recently released from prison by the Missouri Department of Corrections on February 28, 2013, and was in fact on parole for second-degree burglary.
Nichols’ Parole Officer, Andrew Morris, confirmed on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, that Nichols was on parole and under the supervision of the 18th District Parole and Probation Office in Moberly.
Also, information has been obtained that Nichols was arrested in Boone County by the Boone County Sheriff’s Office for “tampering” just two days before the Easter tragedies, was held in the Boone County Jail and subsequently released on bond, all while being on parole.
We asked the obvious questions to the 18th District Parole and Probation Office in Moberly and a Department of Corrections Public Information Officer in Jefferson City.
Should Nichols have been kept in jail given his status of being on parole? Is it common to allow a person who is arrested while on parole to be released on bond? Was a mistake made by allowing Nichols to be released from jail?
We are still waiting for responses to these questions and will post them when they become available.
Possibly the best and worst question of all is – could the Easter tragedies and the murder of Carmelita Kaser have been avoided?
We will continue to gather information about the case and release it as it becomes available.
The staff of The Edina Sentinel wishes to express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Carmelita Kaser.