Sheriff Mearl Justus Laid To Rest

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CAHOKIA, IL (KTVI)-Well known and respected former St. Clair County Sheriff Mearl Justus was laid to rest Saturday.  Justus died Dec. 18, 2012, just one week after stepping down as sheriff. He was 81.

Justus spent 22 years as Cahokia’s police chief before being elected sheriff. He spent more than 30 years in that office, serving eight terms.  He also served on the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis since its founding in 1965, even serving as its chairman of the board.

Hundreds of people gather in a Cahokia church to bid farewell to man who has served the metro east community for six decades. A huge American flag greeted mourners at Holy Family church in Cahokia. Mearl Justus was baptized in the parish as a baby. Now it would be the place of his funeral. Dozens of vases of flowers lined each side of the church.  It was packed with people from all walks of life.

Fr. Mark Reyling, chaplain for the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department,  says Justus was never shy about his faith. He made charity an important part of his life.

Reyling said, “He assisted a robbery victim in receiving cataract surgery after her life savings were stolen in that same robbery. He established nutrition ministries in churches here in Cahokia and held a benefit for the women’s crisis center in Belleville.”

In his eulogy, Master Sgt. Thomas Trice said Justus gave himself to his profession body and soul. He said the sheriff was tough but fair and beneath the gruff exterior a compassionate man.  Sgt. Thomas revealed what the sheriff told him when his son died a few years ago.

“There is nothing more important than your family. You take all the time you need and we’ll be here when you get back,” remembered Trice.

Hundreds of officer paraded by the casket and in a final salute gathered in front of the church as the flag draped coffin was taken to the cemetery.

St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch was one of the pall bearers. Justus began mentoring Fitch when he was a teenager.

He said, “You couldn’t count the number of lives this man touched.”

 Rick Watson was chosen by the St. Clair County Board to fill the remaining two years of Justus’ term.  

More coverage: St. Clair County Sheriff Mearl Justus Dies

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Latest News

More News