Suspects arrested after stolen funeral van found in Festus; Body recovered

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SPANISH LAKE, Mo. – St. Louis County Police say that a funeral home van stolen Thursday from a north St. Louis County QuikTrip with a body inside has been found. Two people were arrested in Festus, Missouri at around 10:00 am for this incident Friday.

 The funeral director said he was not worried about the stolen van, he’s just grateful the body of the woman was returned to the family.  The family can now have closure with the passing of their loved one.

Police were called to the gas station at Highway 367 and Parker Road in the Spanish Lake area of North County around 10:30 a.m. for a report of a stolen vehicle. The van was left running and unattended in the parking lot. Someone got in and drove away. The van had a body in it while it was stolen.

Police have not released the identity of the deceased woman but said the family has been notified of what has happened.

Police said the van was spotted in Alton, Illinois on Thursday shortly after the theft. It was ultimately found in Festus, Missouri.

A man and a woman were wanted in this crime. Police released surveillance images from the QuikTrip and a detailed description of the vehicle to help find the body and the vehicle. The public shared the images widely and the story went viral.

Police said someone spotted the stolen white cargo van and called the police. The suspects were apparently inside a Walmart in Festus shopping in the sporting goods aisle. 

Officers from Festus and Crystal City Police Department arrested the couple, both in their 30s, without incident.

The identity of the suspects and charges in this incident have not yet been released.

“This case is a remarkable example of how working together benefits our community and helps to bring closure to those who have been victimized,” writes a representative from the St. Louis County Police Department.

“Great thanks go out to the concerned citizens for paying attention and being attentive and calling us to get us out there so we could get the relief to the family ” CPL Jeff Beffa with the Festus Police Department said.

There is a lesson to be learned here:

“It’s opportunistic,” Officer Tracy Panus of the St. Louis County Police Department said. “These thefts from gas stations. People leave their vehicles running.  It only takes a matter of seconds before someone’s in your vehicle and they’re gone…we are out very actively searching for this van. We have our auto theft unit out. We have our patrol officers out very actively searching to recover this woman for her family.”  

Police said the suspects traveled a lot in the van within the 24 hour period and the body remained in the van the entire time.
  
 It’s unclear  at this time what charges the suspects will face.

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