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Press Release

Man Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for his Role in Three Homicides and Witness Tampering

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

St. Louis, MO – Demante Syms, 26, of Saint Louis, Missouri, was sentenced to life imprisonment plus one year for his participation in the killing of three individuals in furtherance of drug trafficking and his tampering with a witness.  Syms was sentenced by United States District Court Judge John A. Ross.

According to court documents, Jacobi Temple, Syms and Samuel Spires traveled in a vehicle to the area of 4467 Itaska Street.  Temple went there to obtain payment for heroin previously distributed by him that had not been paid for.  Temple learned of the 4467 Itaska location from Tammie Thurmond who was the mother of Paige Schaefer.  As Temple and Syms were inside 4467 Itaska demanding payment, Temple shot and killed James Lacey and Paige Schaefer.  Brittney Brown was shot in the head and severely injured.  Syms blocked the door while Temple committed the killings at Itaska.  (Spires remained outside the Itaska residence in a parked vehicle.)  Shortly after, Temple, Syms and Spires located Ms. Thurmond.  With Syms seated next to her inside the backseat of a vehicle, Temple took Ms. Thurmond to an alley, then shot and killed her. 

After being shot in the head inside the Itaska residence, Brittney Brown struggled to, but successfully contacted 911.  Ms. Brown survived but was hospitalized for a significant period of time.  While hospitalized (and continuing after her release), Ms. Brown provided invaluable support and assistance to law enforcement officials.  Ms. Brown provided a powerful, moving victim impact statement during today’s sentencing for the court’s consideration in fashioning an appropriate sentence for Syms. 

Following his federal indictment for drug trafficking and murder, Syms recruited his mother, Tabitha Hunt, to assist him in tampering with a witness in connection with the underlying homicide investigation.  Syms and his mother were subsequently indicted in a second federal indictment as a result.

Today’s sentence of life imprisonment plus one year holds Syms accountable for his conduct in both federal indictments.  Following sentencing, United States Attorney Jeff Jensen reiterated the important message that such a strong sentence sends, “People who commit violent crimes will be punished harshly.  I am very grateful to Brittney Brown for taking a stand against these murderers.”

As for Syms’ co-defendant, Hunt was sentenced to term of federal supervised release on May 1, 2018.  Spires was sentenced to 20-years imprisonment on May 23, 2018.  Temple’s sentencing is set for July 27, 2018.  

This case was investigated as part of the on-going effort between the United States Attorney’s Office, the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to address the violent crime within the City of Saint Louis.

Updated June 19, 2018

Violent Crime