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NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — A man who had gone missing was found dead near a creek area in Normal Friday night.

At approximately 10 p.m. Friday, Normal police found the victim, 21-year-old Matthew Listman of Libertyville, IL., at the intersection of W. Summit and N. Main Streets in Normal.

The image Normal police provided of Matthew Listman, 21

Listman was reported missing since Thursday and was pronounced dead just after 11 p.m. Friday.

A preliminary autopsy showed Listman drowned to death in the setting of cold exposure, and toxicology is pending. Although Listman’s death does not appear to be criminal in nature, officials are investigating the cause of death further.

Those with any information that could help Normal police and the McLean County Coroner’s office in any investigation are encouraged to contact NPD Criminal Investigations Division at 309-454-9593 or email cso@npd.org.

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ST. LOUIS – The origins of Mardi Gras may stem in New Orleans, Louisiana, but St. Louis also has some deep-rooted connections to ‘Fat Tuesday.’

Back in the 1790s, the area now known as Soulard was run by an upper Louisiana surveyor named Antoine Soulard, way before the celebration was recognized in Missouri. Over 200 years later, a St. Louis local decided to host a party centered around the Lenten season tradition.

In February 1980, Bob Brinkmann and friends planned a themed gathering at the previously-named Hilary’s pub, located at 1017 Russell Boulevard. After a few moments, Brinkmann shouted, “How about a Mardi Gras party?”

He’d eventually purchase the building, which is now recognized as Johnny’s Restaurant & Bar. Afterward, the one-time private party became the norm in the city, even gaining corporate sponsorships.

In 2023, the five-week-long celebration will draw approximately 750,000 people nationwide. The Twelfth Night kicked off on January 6 and peaks on February 25.

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CLINTON, Mo. — On April 4, 1991, a woman by the name of Angela “Angie” Hammond went missing, leaving the community rattled. Hammond had just graduated from Montrose High School. She was popular and well-known in Clinton, Missouri. She was also four months pregnant and engaged. 

A 2010 episode of Unsolved Mysteries was about the case. Eleven years later, Clinton Police posted an update on its Facebook page involving Hammond’s disappearance. They shared new evidence, including a strange letter sent the day of the abduction.

Clinton, Missouri, is a quiet town in the middle of the United States. In comparison to the big city, the peaceful area felt safer from crime in 1991. But that feeling of safety was shattered when a popular young woman went missing and may have been killed.

Angela Hammond and her boyfriend, Rob Shafer, got engaged after they found out that she was pregnant. He promised he would always take care of her. 

On April 4, 1991, Hammond dropped Shafer off at his parents’ house, so he could watch his little brother. Hammond had plans to call Shafer later and meet up. 

About an hour later, Hammond called Shafer from a pay phone in the middle of town, seven blocks away from his house. It was late at night, and there weren’t many people around.

Hammond saw a vehicle that didn’t look right. She talked to Shafer on the phone and told him about the truck. It was a green Ford pickup truck from the 1970s with a picture of fish in the back window.

Shafer describes in the Unsolved Mysteries episode what happened next. The mystery man, described as a “filthy bearded man,” used the phone next to Hammond, then went back to his truck and used a flashlight to look at something. 

Shafer told Hammond over the phone to ask him if he needed to call someone. The other phone might have been broken. Shafer said that he heard the man reply “no,” and Hammond and Shafer continued their conversation. 

Then, over the phone, he heard her screaming. He dropped his phone and ran out of the house.

He drove out to try to help her and passed his girlfriend in a green Ford truck as she was being driven away. Shafer says that Angie called his name from the truck.

Shafer’s car broke down when he made a U-turn to chase the truck. He watched as Hammond was driven away.

Hammond was taken from a pay phone at the corner of Second and Jefferson Streets. She hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

The Clinton, Missouri, Police Department posted on its Facebook page on the 30th anniversary of the missing person case.  They wanted Angela Hammond’s family to know that they are still looking for answers.

“There are still several active and open leads being considered,” the post read. “One of those leads originates from the Lake of the Ozarks region.”

A confidential informant’s testimony in court was a key part of stopping a big illegal drug operation. Police say that when the identity of the informant was revealed during the case, he got a letter with cut-and-paste characters. It looked like a ransom note from a kidnapping movie. The Facebook post had a copy of the odd letter with the wife’s name and the confidential informant number, which have been blacked out to protect their privacy.

The note addresses the informant by the number that was given to him to keep his identity secret before the court case. It also mentions the informant’s estranged wife by her first name. The letter was sent on April 4, 1991, the same night Angela Hammond was abducted. 

The informant’s wife and his daughter, also named Angela, were living in Clinton, Missouri, at that time. 

Investigators think that a member or members of a criminal organization took the informant’s daughter as payback.

The police said, “Some mistake was made as to the identity of the targeted ‘Angie,’ who had some physical resemblance to Angela Hammond, resulting in Hammond’s abduction.”

Someone who wanted to remain anonymous called the police and left a message about the Angela Hammond case. The Clinton, Missouri Police Department ended their Facebook post with this

“That person specifically mentioned two names. You did not provide a means for us to recontact you,” said Clinton police. “If that person is reading this message, please re-contact us so that we can speak with you in real time. We will protect your identity or assure your anonymity.”

Police are still looking for clues in this case. If you have heard a similar story or have any information, please contact Clinton Police.

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ST. LOUIS – A seasonably-warm Saturday near the end of January gave many a reason to venture out of their homes and explore around the St. Louis area.

Crowds gathered as St. Charles held its first-ever Bowl and Brews festival at the Foundry Art Centre. The event has it all, including chili beer, music and a chance for the vendors to walk away with some prizes.

“Today’s been awesome. The sun’s out, love being here, love being with my friends and my husband and doing something different,” said Elisabeth Brown with the Foundry Art Centre.

“Here you can come on in, sample all the chili and the beer and then were having a contest,” said Beth Norviel, director of communications and special events for the City of St. Charles. “You can vote for your favorite at the end of the day. We’re awarding first prize for beer, and first prize for chili. … We had a great turn out, and we are just looking forward to continuing to grow the event.”

While those guests spent their Saturday indoors, others wanted to take a nice adventure to the Gateway Arch and take advantage of what the weather had to offer.

“It feels really good outside, me and my people just walking trying to figure out what to eat,” said Ashley Lathon.

“It’s beautiful,. A little bit windy, but gorgeous weather,” said Alejandra Madrid.

Some people say with the weather being like this, it makes it a lot easier to ride on their skateboards.

“It’s actually pretty good,” said Dante Noel. “It’s warm with the cold air, It’s pretty easy riding skateboards and everything.”

“We had so much snow last week that being able to come outside and enjoy the sun is just wonderful. And it’s a great place to be, right under the Arch,” said Brennan Huser.

While the weather feels nice Saturday, a cold front is coming in overnight, which means it’s time to prepare.

“Mostly to just stay in the house. If you go into work, probably go early, so you won’t be in the weather that much,” said Noel.

“Probably stay in the house, put some salt down on the steps, get some food, get some water, you never know with St Louis weather,” said Lathon.

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ST. LOUIS – A well-known eatery is teaming up to protect fellow St. Louisans from the cold.

Hardee’s and Heat-Up St. Louis prepare for the 23rd annual ‘Rise and Shine For Heat’ fundraiser. The restaurant donates some of their dishes for Missouri and Illinois locals who are unable to qualify for federal assistance to help with their utilities.

Volunteers can sign up at the fundraiser on Friday, February 10 at HeatUpStLouis.org.

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ST. LOUIS – Two young carjackers did not make it far after stealing a man’s minivan in the parking lot of a south St. Louis church.

Police say a 62-year-old man pulled into the parking lot of the Carondelet Baptist Church around 7 p.m. Friday. Around that time, he was approached by two armed teenagers. Investigators believe the suspects were between 13 and 15 years old.

After taking the man’s wallet and minivan, the pair attempted to drive off from the church, located in the 7300 block of Virginia Avenue. Investigators say they crashed into several parked cars in the lot. After that, the teens got out of the car and ran away from the scene.

The church captured surveillance footage of the crime on video and shared parts of it with FOX 2. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is still looking for the suspects.

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ST. PETERS, Mo. – Six months have passed since historic flash flooding slammed much of the St. Louis metropolitan area.  

One group of Lutheran Christian servants spent part of the weekend helping people in a St. Peters subdivision repair their homes.

Patrick Bales and his wife Brianna have lived in the Copperfield neighborhood along Barrington Drive for seven years. When their basement flooded after historic rainfall last summer, they salvaged what they could and put their valuables in the garage.

“Due to the overflow of the sewer, we had probably about 12 to 18 inches in our basement,” said Bales. “We ended up losing all of our appliances, and a lot of computers and stuff like that down there, because that was kind of our gaming nerd space.”

They lost appliances like their water heater, HVAC unit and washer/dryer. However, they are getting help replacing them thanks to a group with the Lutheran Early Response Team.

Ryan Taylor is a pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church and School in St. Charles. He learned about the homes impacted after several of his congregation members experienced flooding.

“It’s all the work of volunteers who just want to come out and do this,” said Taylor. “We don’t contract anything out, and the group of guys and gals who are out here doing this just want to do it. They come out every day with joy, and they’re so thankful to be able to do something like this on behalf of their neighbors here in St. Peter’s.” 

“There has been about 75 different volunteers over the six months that have been here from four different states and 13 different Lutheran churches,” said Chris Schult, volunteering with LERT.

Since July’s historic flooding, water from a nearby creek entered dozens of homes in the Copperfield subdivision alone. Since then, volunteers have been able to raise more than $60,000 to make repairs in over 60 homes.

“We use that grant money for buying drywall and tools and other material and lunches and water and everything it takes behind the scenes to be able to do something like this,” Schult said.

Repairs will continue for the next couple weeks as the group finishes up the final ten homes on their list.

“It’s just been a wonderful act of mercy that we’ve been able to do for all of these people out here who really may not have had the means to, to fix anything that they had,” Taylor said.

“I am so grateful to the Lutheran Church. They’ve helped out so many houses in our neighborhood,” said Bales.

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BALLWIN, Mo. – More than 100 people volunteered Saturday with Islamic Relief USA in an effort to alleviate hunger in the St. Louis area.

The nonprofit teamed up with the Muslim Youth of St. Louis to pack up 25,000 meals this weekend at the Daar-UI-Islam Gymnasium in Ballwin.

The goal is to help provide nutritious, nonperishable food to populations in need, regardless of race, gender, or creed.

Islamic Relief USA programs benefit millions of people each year across 40 countries worldwide. For more information on the program, click here.

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ST. LOUIS – Mama Lucia’s Pizza and 4 Hands Brewing Co. are widely known for their frozen pizzas inspired by St. Louis foods and restaurants. However, the pandemic caused a halt in sales.

Both eateries have recently announced that three new pizzas, made in collaboration with even more local spots, have been added to their menus:

  • Cheeseburger-inspired pizza from Hi-Pointe Drive-In – includes bacon, a brewery crust, cheeseburger sauce, cheddar and mozzarella, hamburger, tomatoes, and onions
  • Chicken tikka masala pizza from India’s Rasoi – includes a naan-like dough and tikka masala sauce, chicken, mozzarella, onions, and peppers
  • Gyro pizza from Michael’s Bar & Grill – has gyro meat, mozzarella, red onions, tomatoes, and Tzatziki sauce

President of Mama Lucia’s Scott Ashby, shared the intentions behind the collaborations.

“[When] this thing started off, it was going to be kind of like craft beers, [rotating] in restaurants over time.”

The newly-crafted pies can be found in the Diebergs and Schnucks markets. 4 Hands Brewing Co. and Mama Lucia’s Pizza gave out free some slices Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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The director of Missouri’s child welfare agency told lawmakers this week that the state has “effectively legally orphanized” around 1,500 children.

Those children have had their legal ties to their biological parents severed — by a court, in what’s called termination of parental rights — but the social services agency had no adoptive parents ready to take their place. 

They wait, in foster care, to be adopted or age out of the system.

“If you know anybody who wants to adopt a child, an older child who’s got that situation, let us know, because those kids need to be moved on,”  Darrell Missey, director of Children’s Division,  told lawmakers at a House budget subcommittee hearing for the Department of Social Services.

Those “orphanized” children, in limbo, are part of the broader issue Missey laid out for lawmakers: Too many kids enter foster care, and once entangled in the system, they linger. 

There are more than 13,300 kids in foster care in Missouri — which includes placement settings such as temporary care with relatives, traditional foster families with strangers and group residential homes.

Only around 45% of foster children returned home safely to their parents within 12 months in 2021, the most recently available data — far below the federal benchmark of 75%.

The state removes children at a rate nearly twice the national average, even when accounting for poverty, according to the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.

The reason, Missey said, is twofold. 

At the front-end, Missouri does too little to prevent kids from entering foster care in the first place, he said, and at the back-end, there are too few resources to move foster kids to stable, permanent homes.

Often, when kids come into care, Missey said, it’s a result of “poverty, mental illness, and addiction.

“If you put services on the front end to prevent those things from getting to a place where a child had to be removed, that’s a much better expenditure of money,” he said, adding that each child in foster care costs the state around $25,000 per year.

“It more than pays for itself over time,” Missey said, of prevention efforts.

Social services leadership pitched lawmakers on a new philosophy to “rebuild and reform” Children’s Division, as part of the overall agency’s budget proposal for next year which features funding 100 new Children’s Division staff as “phase one.”

State Rep. Sarah Unsicker, D-Shrewsbury, who sits on the committee which heard the social services budget, said in an interview with The Independent the preventative services outlined in the budget are “definitely a step forward, but I think a lot more needs to be done.”

In the hearing, she pointed to the limited funding for a crisis program, which is designed to provide temporary child care relief for parents facing crisis, to avoid their children being taken into foster care. 

DSS leadership said the issue is that the providers for that program are limited, so they didn’t request a funding increase. 

“[Missey is] asking for what he is hoping he can get right now,” Unsicker said in an interview. 

Unsicker also pointed to a need to bolster Missouri’s social safety net more broadly. Because poverty is often conflated with child neglect, ensuring adequate housing assistance is available, for instance, could prevent children from being taken out of their homes for their poor living conditions, Unsicker said — although that wouldn’t be in DSS’s direct purview.

Missey said he hopes this is the beginning of a shift in the department’s priorities for years to come.

“I’ve had people already ask me, ‘Do they think this is enough?’” Missey said, “And as I’ve explained to people, this is just the first step.”

He added, “I think it’s going to lead to great practice once we can get there.” 

‘Phase one’

Robert Knodell, acting director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, addresses a group of state employees on May 24, 2021 (photo: Missouri Governor’s Office).

One challenge of having so many kids in state care is that it requires a lot of staff to manage them, which Missouri’s Children’s Division does not have, causing unmanageable caseloads, low morale, and high turnover rates and vacancies. 

As “just phase one” of the plan to reform the department, Missey said, the department hopes to hire 100 more staff, using part of the $22 million Gov. Mike Parson recommended be allocated to the division in his budget proposal last week for “Children’s Division Reconstruction and Reform.”

Missey said that phase is “completely dependent” on the legislature enacting the governor’s recommendation to increase state workers’ pay across-the-board by 8.7%, so they can fill those positions and retain existing staff.

The starting salary for an entry-level Children’s Division worker now, with a cost-of-living boost from the governor last year, plus a 10% boost Children’s Division allocated to caseworkers from their vacancy-related savings, is $39,390.96.

With the 8.7% raises, Missey said, Missouri will “approach” the average salaries of the surrounding states’ child welfare workers, but not meet it.

“Approaching it is far better than we are now, which is nowhere near it.”

Missey said the real number of new employees they need is much higher: they have around 1,800 workers in the agency but by some estimates, need closer to 3,400, primarily to handle the large foster care caseload. To be on par with neighboring Arkansas, Missey said, they would need 1,000 more workers than they currently have.

“I’m not asking for 1,000 people,” Missey said. 

‘This job is impossible’: High turnover, low morale plague Missouri child welfare agency

https://missouriindependent.com/2022/09/19/this-job-is-impossible-high-turnover-low-morale-plague-missouri-child-welfare-agency/embed/#?secret=NCtKPecVXH

Missey said for the additional 100 staff, the general idea would be to use them in one of two ways: to “increase efficiencies for everybody with regard to the work they do now” — meaning to lower existing caseloads — “and the other is to further the work we do toward prevention,” he added.

The new workers would be utilized “in a way designed to bring the number of kids in care down,” Missey said, although he also said the department is still working “to piece that together” and not “count our chickens before they’ve hatched.” 

The state has shrunk most of its prevention-oriented workforce, called Family Centered Service workers. Those staff are called in when the state has concerns that don’t rise to the level of removing the child — but most have been moved away from that work, to cover child abuse and neglect investigations and foster care case management because of staffing issues, Missey said at the hearing. The number of open Family Centered Service cases has dropped over the last five years, according to DSS’s annual reports. 

Longer-term, reducing the number of kids in care could allow more staff to be moved to prevention work, Missey said.

Parson cut 96 jobs from Children’s Division in 2020, citing COVID-related declining revenue, though they were mostly supervisors and mid-level management rather than frontline workers. 

The same month, former director Jennifer Tidball turned down a Senate committee’s offer to help staff more positions

During the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday, Chairman Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, noted that the governor is asking for 100 new employees in the Children’s Division even though the division turned down 50 that year.

“What has changed from when we tried to add 50 positions and were told they were not needed?” Hough asked.

Budget Director Dan Haug answered: “We have new leadership over there that has taken a fresh look at it.”

Robert Knodell took over as acting Department of Social Services director in October 2021. Soon after, Missey stepped down as a circuit judge in Jefferson County to become head of Children’s Division.

Missey said eventually, he may try to target the new prevention-oriented staff to the geographic areas with the highest rates of foster children in care.

“Should we target those people there and do it all at once? If we did it all at once, this would be much bigger,” Missey said, adding that if the legislators decide Children’s Division needs more workers faster, “we would take them.”

With the governor’s recommendations, Knodell said, he believes that “will make our child service worker salaries more competitive.”

“But ultimately the solution to our problem is really more prevention,” Knodell later continued, “and fewer children having to come into care.” 

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Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, has disagreed with Missey’s emphasis on hiring more workers, arguing instead that the best preventative services would include providing emergency help directly to families. 

By email, Wexler said he believes Missey’s new plans continue to be misguided. 

“All those new hires will only wind up widening the net of needless intervention into families,” Wexler said, “and you’ll get the same lousy system only bigger.”

Instead of spending money to hire 100 more people, Wexler said the funds should be directed into “emergency concrete help for families: Child care aid, rent subsidies, one-time emergency cash.”

And those funds, he argued, should be administered by community-based, community-run organizations.

“That would significantly reduce cases in which poverty is confused with neglect,” Wexler said.

“Instead of increasing the supply of caseworkers, reduce the demand for caseworkers by directly helping families.”

‘Return on investment’

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivered his annual State of the State Address on Jan. 18, 2023, where he recommended $22 million in funding for Children’s Division Reconstruction and Reform (Tim Bommel/Missouri House Communications).

The budget would provide a slight boost to existing contracted preventative services, through a rate increase for third party providers — but Missey indicated more significant prevention efforts would come down the line, once the bare minimum workforce needs were met and more Children’s Division staff could be shifted to prevention work.

The governor recommended rate increases of 13% for contracted providers, DSS officials explained, which would include a handful of contractors who provide preventative services now.

Children’s treatment services includes contractors who provide mental health assessments, parent aide and education services, and the home-based crisis intervention program to keep families together, called intensive in-home services. 

Intensive in-home services, which consists of weeks-long intensive support for qualifying families when a child is at immediate risk of being removed, often including help connecting the family with community resources, generally has fewer openings than demand and served around 1,500 families in 2021. 

In 2021, the latest state data, 19 children were not accepted to intensive in-home services due to a lack of openings and were then placed in state custody. 

Chief Financial Officer of DSS Patrick Luebbering said the children’s treatment services providers have not received a rate increase since 2007 and many of the services “are prevention — this is where we want to put more bang for the buck, to keep kids out of care.”

With the governor’s proposed rate increase, the budgeted amount for children’s treatment services would increase from $22.9 million to $25.5 million, though the budget did not break down the spending for intensive in-home services specifically.

Another preventative program, called crisis care, is composed of short term emergency placement so that, Missey said, “where the parents can’t take care of the child, that child doesn’t necessarily have to come into foster care.”

Unsicker questioned whether the roughly $2 million allocated to crisis care in the budget is sufficient.

“You’re putting so much emphasis on prevention, and putting more money into prevention,” Unsicker said at this week’s budget hearing, “and I’m just looking at this and it’s $2 million, which is not a whole lot in the scope of our budget.”

Missey said that it’s also a question of whether current providers “are available to use that money,” and said they should have conversations with places like the crisis nursery center in St. Louis to ask whether they can expand.

Luebbering added that the crisis services are limited and specific services and they haven’t been fully expended them the last few years, and that “if we were thinking we were needing more money here, we probably would’ve requested.” 

“We’re trying to look at what other prevention type services out there that we need to build up,” Luebbering said, through Family First.

The Family First Prevention Services Act, enacted by Congress in 2018, set out to provide federal funds focused on prevention resources, and to reduce the use of congregate homes for foster youth, also called residential treatment facilities. 

So you take my kid, you put him in foster care, you pay the foster parents money. What if I needed that and if I had that money, then my kid would no longer be neglected and you would have never taken them?

– Rep. Deb Lavender (D-Kirkwood)

The state has been appropriated the same roughly $10 million to spend to develop new programs for Family First every year since fiscal year 2020. They have, as of last fiscal year, spent just under $300,000 of that now $10.8 million. Missey and Luebbering said they hope to spend more this year. 

Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, who is on the subcommittee that heard this budget this week, said at the hearing she agreed with the shift toward prevention.

Lavender questioned whether the money the state pays for foster care could be better spent given to the family itself, to avoid neglect claims rooted in poverty.

“So you take my kid, you put him in foster care, you pay the foster parents money. What if I needed that and if I had that money, then my kid would no longer be neglected and you would have never taken them?” Lavender asked.

Missey said it’s a question he often had when he served as a judge. 

“The definition of neglect is so broad you could drive a truck through it,” Missey said. “And so it’s philosophically exactly the right question to ask, particularly as we move forward to shift the nature of this.” 

In an interview, Lavender said the 13% increase for contractors plus 100 new workers is a “good place to start,” and that she was encouraged by the direction of the department under Director Missey, and understood the department may not be able to use a massive increase in preventative funding abruptly, without this transition. 

Rep. Michael O’Donnell, R-Oakville, said at the hearing that he appreciated the discussion of “return on investment,” meaning what the state spends on foster care now versus what it could spend investing in prevention. 

“I love the fact that you guys actually have a vision that says we’re going to reduce the number of kids in foster care,” O’Donnell said. “It’s going to have a fiscal impact on the entire state budget.”

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Missouri Independent is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Missouri Independent maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jason Hancock for questions: info@missouriindependent.com. Follow Missouri Independent on Facebook and Twitter.



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