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Just Another Day In The 'Hood'

Mike

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EDWARDSVILLE • An 85-year-old woman kidnapped in May outside a bingo game in Collinsville and locked into her car trunk was alive when the car burned, a Madison County coroner's jury was told Wednesday.

Three people have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Yoko Cullen of Belleville, who apparently was the victim of a carjacking as she left the Firemen's Hall on Collinsville Road at the west edge of Collinsville.

The car was found burned May 20 near the intersection of 11th Street and Falling Springs Road in East St. Louis. Her remains were discovered after the car had been towed to Andy's Auto Body and Towing in Madison. That's why the inquest was in Madison County even though the charges are in St. Clair County.

East St. Louis police Detective Orlando Ward said after the hearing that investigators believe Cullen was acquainted with one of the accused killers, Latosha A. Cunningham, and that both frequently played bingo at the hall.

Ward said the killers may have believed, mistakenly, that Cullen carried a substantial sum of money.

Murder charges were filed against Cunningham, 37, of Belleville; Daquan D. Barnes, 18, of Granite City; and his cousin, Demarcus D. Barnes, 28, of Belleville.

Shane Liley, a coroner's investigator, testified Wednesday that Cullen's body was almost entirely consumed by the fire but said part of her trachea was found and the inside of it was coated with soot. "It indicated to us that she was breathing when the fire started," Liley said.

Pathologist Raj Nanduri found no evidence of other injuries, Roger Smith, the chief deputy coroner, told the jury, which as a formality ruled the death a homicide.


Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/article_0d3508ae-fa6c-5342-ab36-d58fb8b5367d.html#ixzz1Y7QxDAca
 

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