EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KTVI) -St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly filed charges Friday against Rickey Raper, 42-year-old resident of East St. Louis; for the death of newlywed Maxsimillion Quarles. Raper is charged with First Degree Murder, Aggravated Possession of a Stolen Police Vehicle, and Possession of a Stolen Police Vehicle.
Bond has been set at $1,000,000.00, Raper is currently being held at the St. Clair County Jail.
Raper is accused of killing a newlywed in East St. Louis Wednesday morning while on her way to work, by a man driving at a high rate of speed in a stolen police car.
'It sounded like a bomb, it was so unbelievably loud,' said Phillis Louis-Oliver, describing the violent crash that happened just outside her house.
The trouble started shortly before 8:00 A.M. when a passenger got on a Metro bus at 83rd and State streets in East St. Louis, but refused to pay his fare, and refused to get off the bus. A Metro spokesperson says no other passengers were on board at the time.
The driver called Metro, then Metro called the East St. Louis police. An officer arrived around 8:30, leaving the squad car running while removing the man from the bus.
'As he was removed from the bus, he did so voluntarily and ran to the police car that was running and got in at a high rate of speed on State street,' said Illinois State Police Lt. Dave Wasmuth.
The suspect didn`t make it very far. Near the intersection of 70th and State streets, he slammed the police car into two cars stopped or nearly stopped at the intersection. Police estimate he was traveling nearly 100 miles per hour.
One of the vehicles was pushed off the road; the other was smashed into a utility pole.
Inside that car, a Ford Taurus was Maxsimillion Quarles, 38, of Belleville. She died at the scene.
'I was praying walking up to it,' said Peggy Gatewood, who had been inside the East St. Louis Senior Center when she heard the crash. 'I knew it had to be a miracle for somebody to survive that.'
Quarles had just been married within the past two weeks.
'She was a joyful person,' said Jamerro Quarles, the victim`s 21 year old son.
'She always had a smile on. She was very energetic when it came to doing things for other people,' he said.
Helping others had become Quarles' passion after her 17 year old son Christopher died suddenly in 2003 from a heart condition. After that, Quarles decided to become a psychotherapist so she could help others in pain. She had been working as a counselor for the Veterans Administration while also going to school to earn her doctorate degree.
The Illinois State Police have taken over the crash investigation.
'It`s unfortunate that someone going to work, a family person minding their own business, ends up getting killed on a busy street because some idiot wants to act out. That`s the softest way I can say it,' Wasmuth said.
It is not unusual for police officers to leave their cars running while making an arrest to save the battery from draining while powering the radio and emergency lights. But in many cases those cars are armed with a device that makes it impossible to be driven without the key in the ignition even with the engine running.
The East St. Louis Police Department says leaving a squad car running is not against its policy. It is unknown whether the squad car involved was equipped with disabling devices.
The suspect, who is not being identified until he is charged, is his 40s.
As of Wednesday night, he was in custody at a St. Louis hospital where he was being treated for non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the car pushed off the road was also hurt, but his injuries are non-life threatening as well.
In addition to her work as a therapist, Quarles also started a group at the Logan Street Church of Christ in Madison, Illinois, called Christopher`s Ministry Youth Group, which helps young people cope with the death of a loved one. It is named for her son who died. She has two surviving sons.
Investigators at the crash scene found thank you notes in her purse from children she had helped.
'It is kind of outrageous, over something minor could cost people`s lives,' said Jamerro Quarles.
'Time will heal and I`ll get over it.'