If you experienced deja vu yesterday upon hearing the story of how masked gunmen forced their way into a North County home
and executed a man staying there, you had good reason.
The slaying of 23-year-old Orlanda J. Smith
in his mother's home near Florissant yesterday is eerily similar to a home invasion May 25
in which masked gunmen forced their way into a house in the Castle Point neighborhood and executed 18-year-old Donovan Forrest
The two neighborhoods where the murders occurred are about three miles apart.
St. Louis County police are still searching for the three men who killed Smith around 5 a.m. Wednesday and then disappeared into a nearby woods.
In a statement yesterday, the police noted that an "argument and verbal altercation that existed before the shooting suggests that the suspects were familiar with the victim." As of this writing the suspects remain at large.
Like Smith's slaying, Forrest was also killed in the early morning -- around 4:40 a.m. -- May 25, and it is believed he, too, knew his attackers. Also like Smith, Forrest's killers remain at large.
This morning I called St. Louis County police to see what -- if any -- connection may lie between these two executions. I'm still waiting for a return call.
Updated 4:59 p.m.: Rick Eckhard with the St. Louis County police got back to me late this afternoon. He says there's no indication that the two crimes are related. The suspects in both execution-style slayings remain at large.