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Plea agreement may dash hopes for family wanting death penalty in Jefferson County murders

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ST. LOUIS – Convicted multi-state killer, Nicholas Sheley, 38, is set to strike a plea deal in Jefferson County to spare his own life.

He’s already been convicted of six gruesome murders in Illinois, where there is no death penalty anymore.

The victims' families were pinning their hopes to his upcoming death penalty trial in Missouri, for two murders in Festus.

Tom and Jill Estes of Arkansas, were in the St. Louis area for a graduation party.

On June 30th, 2008, a worker at the Comfort Inn in Festus where they were staying, noticed their dogs roaming the parking lot, covered with their blood.

Authorities found their bodies in convenience store trash container.

Investigators have said there’s no doubt about Sheley’s guilt.

He’d been the subject of an all-out manhunt for 6 murders in Illinois, with victims ranging in age from 2 to 93, at the time of Estes slayings.

He was captured the day after the Festus crimes at a bar in Granite City.

Sheley is currently serving multiple life sentences for the Illinois cases.

Victims’ family members have been hoping for a death sentence for the Estes murders.

“This guy has committed some of the most atrocious acts you can imagine,” said Patrick Steed, the Estes’ Son In Law.  “If anybody deserves it, he certainly deserves it…we don’t care if it comes not guilty.  We don’t really care.  This guy is never getting out of prison.  The safest play for him to be is in prison, based on meeting people in the world that would love to spend 5 minutes alone with him.  They’re never going to let this guy out of jail so what does it hurt to pursue this?”

The family received a call from prosecutors within the past few weeks, he said.  The message:  Sheley was willing to plead guilty if the death penalty is taken off the table.

“It was a matter of fact call,” Steed said.  “This is what we’re going to do.  You have no say in it.  Nothing you can say will make us consider changing our minds’… it’s an injustice. We deserved our day in court.  We’re not really going to get it.  The prosecuting attorney is going to celebrate this as a big win on Wednesday when they guilty verdict is announced with this plea bargain.  We feel in no way as a family that this is a victory.”

The family had never spoken to the media until now.

They just couldn’t stay silent about this, Steed said.

Jefferson County Prosecutor, Forrest Wegge, told Fox 2/News 11 that he would not comment on pending cases.

He confirmed Sheley’s court date but refused to state the reason for it.

Sheley is due in Jefferson County Court for a plea hearing at one o’clock Wednesday afternoon.  ​