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Press Release

St. Louis Man Sentenced for Role in 2001 Arson that Killed his 15-Year-Old Son

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

St. Louis, MO - STEVEN HENRY KEMPER, Saint Louis County, was sentenced to 70 months in prison in connection with the November 16, 2001, arson of his family’s home in Florissant, Missouri.  Kemper’s 15-year-old son, Zachariah Andrew Kemper, was trapped in the basement and killed during the fire.  Kemper previously pled guilty to one-count of aiding and abetting the use of fire to commit mail fraud. He appeared today for sentencing before United States District Court Judge Audrey G. Fleissig.

The 2001 fire was originally the subject of state charges in which only Kemper’s wife, Sandra Bryant, was charged.  During the ensuing trial, the judge declared a mistrial after ruling that certain polygraph evidence had mistakenly been shown to the jury.  The Missouri Supreme Court ultimately held that because the mistrial was declared over the defense objection, state prosecutors were barred from retrying the defendant in state court because of the United States Constitution’s "double jeopardy" provision.

Sandra Kay Bryant, Saint Louis County, pled guilty to the same charge in March and awaits sentencing in July 2015.

This case was originally investigated by Saint Louis County Police Department.  The United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives took up the investigation after the Missouri Supreme Court decision barring the retrial by state prosecutors.  The St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office also provided significant assistance.

Updated June 10, 2015