Mugshots via Post-Dispatch
Four murders, two mugshots. On the left, Torrance Epps in 1973. On the right, Epps in 2017.
Torrance Epps wasn't your run-of-mill senior housing tenant. Having committed a triple murder in 1973, Epps had the rap sheet of a man who one could only hope had managed to put a troubled and violent life behind him.
Epps' sunset years, though, will take place in a jail cell. On Monday, the 79-year-old murderer pleaded guilty to a litany of charges connected to his fourth slaying, which took the life of Tiandra Johnson on January 19
Epps lived in the Lafayette Towne senior complex in the city's Gate District. Around 1 p.m. that day, Epps fired several times at an unnamed female tenant near her apartment. Then, rolling his wheelchair down the hallway of the housing complex, he entered the leasing office and pointed a gun at yet another person before fatally shooting Johnson, 32, in the chest.
As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
, Epps, appearing in court yesterday, explained to a city judge that he had suspected someone of stealing his life savings from his room. He claimed that he'd spotted Johnson leaving his apartment earlier that day.
"Is that a reason to shoot somebody?" the judge asked Epps.
"I was awfully upset," Epps reportedly said, according to the daily
. "I’m awfully sorry."
Epps' 1973 murder also involved his temper. While searching for his wife and son — who'd reportedly left him for beating her, according to the Post-Dispatch
— he went to his in-laws' house with a gun. He didn't find his wife or son, so he instead he shot and killed his wife's mother and grandparents.
Though sentenced to 30 years in prison, Epps was paroled in 1988. He promptly escaped from a halfway house and spent the next eight years on the lam, finally getting arrested in a sting operation when he tried to pay an undercover federal agent $380 for $615 in food stamps.
According to online court records, Epps appeared to live a clean life after his parole in 2003 — until, that is, he opened fire at his old folks' home. Considering a judge has sentenced him to eighteen years in prison, it's likely he'll die there as a serial murderer.
In addition, a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Epps. Also named in the suit is Sansone Group, the company that owns the senior housing complex.
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com