Authorities in Missouri say they tracked down a suspect in a brutal murder and a pair of sexual assaults at a religious supply store earlier this month after the man left his business card at a neighboring bar.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, 53-year-old Imperial resident Thomas Bruce was arrested after a search spanning two days. He is accused of staging an attack at a St. Louis-area Catholic Supply that left one of his female victims dead.
He was arrested on suspicion of 17 criminal counts including first-degree murder, sodomy, kidnapping and attempted sodomy.
Investigators believe Bruce forced the three women into a back room inside the retail store at gunpoint and forced them to undress. When one woman — identified as 53-year-old Jamie Schmidt of House Springs — refused his demands, he allegedly shot and killed her.
According to the New York Post, St. Louis County law enforcement was able to identify the suspect based on a business card he left with a server prior to the November 19 incident.
Sgt. Shawn McGuire said the discovery marked a turning point in the investigation.
“Without that business card, we’re still searching for this guy,” he said. “That broke the case.”
McGuire said the surviving victims provided an important piece of the puzzle by giving detectives a solid physical description, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
“They paid attention to a lot of the intricate details about him,” he said.
Detectives do not believe the suspect knew any of the victims before the attack. As part of an initial investigation, officers began talking to employees of nearby businesses to see if anyone remembered seeing the man.
Upon questioning one server at the nearby bar, police say she recalled someone fitting that description and retrieved his business card from the trash can. From there, authorities tracked Bruce down at a Jefferson County home he shared with his wife.
If convicted of the charges against him, Bruce could be sentenced to death.
[Featured image: Thomas Bruce, St. Louis County Police Department]