UPDATE: Man charged with murder in 1991 Russellville cold case connected to Fulton murder
RUSSELLVILLE - The Cole County Prosecutor and Cole County Sheriff's Office announced on Thursday the name of the man charged with the 1991 murder of Greg Jones.
William Christopher Niemet has been charged with the murder of then 14-year-old Greg Jones from a 1991 cold case. Niemet was a classmate of Jones and was 15 years old at the time of the murder.
According to court documents a witness said that two weeks before Jones' disappearance Niemet told the witness that Jones would go missing because he was going to kill him. A witness also claimed Niemet came home on his four wheeler and had blood on his pants the night of the murder. They said Niemet then tried to wash the pants and proceeded to pour bleach on them. When Deputy Sheriff David Scheperle knocked on the door looking for the then reported missing Greg Jones, Niemet answered the door in his underwear. The witness said then Niemet then called his dad and took the call outside.
During the investigation Deputy Scheperle saw fresh tire tracks close to the area where Jones' body was found. The tracks were then found to match the same type of four wheeler Niemet was driving the night of the murder.
Court documents also state that two weeks before Jones' disappearance a witness claimed to have saw Niemet on the school bus with a gun. The neighbor of Niemet then reported his revolver stolen on June 17, 1991 after learning that Niemet had become a suspect in the case. The neighbor said that Niemet frequently visited his home and was there multiple times months leading up to the murder. The bullet found in Jones' skull matched with the revolver and after searching Niemet's home Deputy's found ammunition that matched the bullet in Jones' skull.
During the investigation Niemet's father asked a witness to tell investigators that the four wheeler that Niemet had did not run and was not in use. And over the course of the investigation multiple witnesses have said that Niemet claimed responsibility for the murder of Greg Jones.
Niemet is being held in the Cole County Jail and no bond has been set. A hearing has not been filed yet.
The Jones family has not made a public comment yet.
Court documents filed in September 1999 say Sheriff John Hemeyer took Niemet into custody on June 14, 1991. The documents say a petition alleging niemet committed murder was filed in the juvenile court. On June 17, 1991, the petition was amended to allege a different charge, and the juvenile court again found probable cause to detain Niemet.
The prosecutor at the time dropped all charges against him.
In 1997, Niemet filed a lawsuit against Hemeyer and Cole County, saying the sheriff "knowingly imprisoned Niemet on the basis of false information," and used it to keep niemet in custody and 'sweat out' a murder confession.
The Associated Press got community reaction after a neighbor found Jones' body in 1991.
Former Classmates React
As news spread regarding Niemet's charge and arrest, the town of Russellville had mixed reactions.
Some residents who moved to Russellville more recently said that the updated case information was new news to them, but to those who have called Russellville home for most if not all their lives? This announcement was big.
“It’s finally coming to light,” said Rhonda Watts former classmate to both Jones and Niemet.
Watts said she has lived in Russellville for 45 years meaning it has been her forever home, but she has spent two-thirds of her life knowing this case as cold.
"I mean when it happened it was just kind of eerie, you know, not knowing and that many months went by and not knowing who did it," Watts said. "Even though there was talk about who it possibly was.”
Even though it has been nearly three decades since the crime, Watts said this arrest did not come as a surprise.
“I’m not shocked about who the suspect is or proclaimed to be at this point,” Watts said.
Another former classmate, Ron Marrs, said like Watts he also wasn't too shocked by the arrest.
"[Niemet] was kinda, I don’t know. He liked to fight,” Marrs said.
Something else Watts and Marrs both said was that this will help bring closure to the community.
Fulton Police Chief Steve Myers told KOMU Niemet was a person of interest in the 2005 murder of Shawnda Reed. According to a lawsuit filed by Reed's mother, Niemet was Reed's landlord. Investigators said Niemet took out a life insurance policy on Reed claiming to be her brother. Reed and Niemet were not related, the suit claims.
Investigators said days after Reed found out about the policy, someone killed her.
Myers said his department will work with Cole County investigators to determine if they have any overlap in witnesses.
Other than Niemet's alleged involvement in both, Myers said there is no connection to both murders.