Woman jailed on murder charge found dead in cell

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HILLSBORO, Mo. – The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department in suburban St. Louis is investigating the death of a female murder suspect, though indications are that she killed herself.

Sheriff Dave Marshak says 48-year-old Laurel Leeker had been jailed since Aug. 22, awaiting trial on charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. She was found dead from an apparent hanging in her cell Sunday morning.

Marshak says Leeker was in a cell by herself and the preliminary investigation shows no signs of foul play.

Leeker was accused of fatally shooting her boyfriend, 49-year-old Steven Pettit, while he was asleep and telling police an intruder committed the crime.