Thomas Bruce sentenced to life in prison for Catholic Store killing and assaults


Thomas Bruce. (Courtesy: Bill McCormac)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A former pastor accused of sexually assaulting two women inside a suburban St. Louis Catholic Supply Store, then killing a third.

53-year-old Jamie Schmidt, of House Springs, was killed after she refused his demands.

Thomas Bruce entered the plea Friday to first-degree murder and other charges in the attacks in Ballwin, Missouri, on Nov. 19, 2018. Bruce has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A part of the plea and sentence meant dropping some charges from Jefferson County.

Fox 2 later found two previous incidents involving Bruce in which he’d escaped scrutiny until the Catholic Supply Store killing.

A 77-year-old Jefferson County woman recognized his mug shot on TV after the Catholic Supply Store murder. She reported Bruce sexually attacked her at random in September 2018. Bruce was charged with kidnapping, sex abuse, and assault in that case.

In 2018, a man reported Bruce for road rage, saying he deliberately caused a crash on US 61. Fox 2 pulled a dashcam video showing how Bruce treated the responding Missouri state trooper. Bruce shouted at him, “You work for me! I pay your taxes, mother****er!”

Bruce was on the run for two days before his arrest. The 56-year-old Bruce is a Navy veteran who operated a nonprofit church in southeast Missouri for four years until it was dissolved in 2007.

Bruce’s trial was scheduled to begin next week.

St. Louis County police say tips were critical to solving this case and confirmed a business card was key. Investigators say suspect Thomas Bruce gave someone his business card before the crime.

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