JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – The niece of a Missouri murder suspect is speaking out tonight about what she says is a rush to judgment in a cold case murder announcement.
Alice Weiss, 65, had her first court hearing today, after being charged with murder in a cold case involving her former boyfriend.
Weiss remains locked up in the Jefferson County jail and appeared in court today via a jail camera. She pleaded not guilty.
Her niece called us just hours ago from Washington D.C. to say she had traveled here to the St. Louis area to visit her aunt days after her aunt’s boyfriend at the time was found dead.
“I held her hand while she cried and she missed him. She was devastated. She was confused. She was scared. The killer was still out there and the two of us were really, really scared that he would come back and get us,” Maha Armush said.
Armush’s aunt stands charged with second-degree murder for what happened in Dittmer in 2004. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies at the time got a call about a person down.
Court records say they arrived on Shenandoah Lane to find Weiss’s live-in boyfriend, James Summers, lying against a garage – shot in the back and shot in the face.
Armush said the criminal charge against Weiss “…was a complete shock because she didn’t do anything, She wouldn’t hurt a fly. She was a good person. She cares about other people and she really, really loved Jim. There’s been a big mistake.”
Armush provided pictures of her and her aunt to show how important Weiss has been in her life.
“We’re all really shaken up about it because she’s stuck in a situation where she’s innocent and she’s old and frail and she’s suffering for something she didn’t do,” she added,
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced the charge against Weiss Wednesday. During a news conference, he said, “Weiss claims to have heard shots from the bathroom and went to investigate.”
Schmitt said the charges arose from an investigation by his new cold case unit and Jefferson County Sheriff Dave Marshak.
Schmitt added that Weiss gave many inconsistent statements, saying, “Deputies performed a gunshot residue test on her hands while Ms. Weiss attempted to stall and use the restroom. When deputies would not allow her to use the restroom, she changed her story and said she fired the weapon earlier that day, apparently for the first time in 20 years.”
Weiss’ defense attorney John Schleiffarth said, “You know, inconsistent statements, I hear that all the time and it’s not necessarily an indicator that someone did something wrong.”
Schleiffarth says his client is not only innocent but that she should at least be allowed to post a bond to get out of jail while she defends herself.
“I don’t think she’s the type of person who should be in jail. This alleged incident would have taken place 17 years ago and she’s never been someone who’s had a criminal record of any kind,” he said.
Fox 2 will learn much more as this case plays out at the Jefferson County Courthouse, starting next week with an attempt by the defense to get the judge to set a bond.
It’s currently not an option for Weiss to get out of jail as she’s being held on no bond.