ARNOLD, Mo. – The murder of Steven Weltig went unsolved for 27 years. But the case was never ignored. Robert Shockey would make sure of it.
April 23, 1993, was a day Shockey said he will never forget. He was a patrolman with the Arnold Police Department when he was called out to the Ajax Liquor Store on JeffCo Boulevard.
“I was the second car on the scene that day of the shooting. And when I say second car, three seconds behind the first car. It was big,” he said.
The owner of the store, 40-year-old Steven Weltig, had been shot in the head. For days, Major Case Squad detectives poured over the evidence in the case in search of a suspect. There were several leads, but no concrete evidence leading to a killer. Eventually, the Arnold Police Department took over the case.
The situation was similar – several tips, but no suspect. But the department wasn’t giving up. Shockey said the case never collected dust in a file cabinet.
“Over these 20 years that I’ve been the chief here, we’ve been able to assign different detectives to look into the case. That led us to several leads in the case,” he said. “Every detective who looked at it came up with a little bit of a different lead. Which led us down another path, which led us to another person, which led us down to [the suspect].”
Detectives made headway in 2015, when reliable tips led them to a man named Loril Harp. It was 2020 when Harp, then 68, confessed to shooting Weltig. Police said the two got into an argument and that Harp pulled the trigger.
Crime scene photographs show the inside of the business where there were signs of a struggle. They also show a side door which police believe Harp used after he shot the victim.
Harp was charged with Weltig’s murder in Sept. 2020. At the time, his health was in poor condition. Shockey believes Harp admitted to his role to clear his conscience.
Earlier this month, Harp’s health took a turn for the worse and he died while in police custody.
“I’m just glad we solved the case. I know that if I had a loved one who was killed the way Steve was killed, I would want it solved, and put to bed. And actually know exactly what happened. And I think that is huge for the family. I wish Steve’s mom were still alive – we could have told her,” Shockey said.