A friend/client of mine was out with two other girls last weekend. They were meeting up with two more girls at Train Wreck in West Port Plaza. My friend walked in the bar with the two girls she was with, bought a draft beer from the bar and was standing there waiting for a table. She literally had two drinks of her beer and that is all she remembers. She woke up St. Luke's Hospital with high levels of Rohypnol in her blood. They had found her in the parking lot of the hospital. She was raped. The two other girls she was with that night were also drugged, taken from the bar, raped, and later found in the parking lot of St. Anthony's.
No word yet on the girls they were meeting up there. No one has heard from them.
From what the police have told her this is a common problem they are having in West Port. They have arrested one bartender from a different restaurant/bar associated with a different case.
If you are like hundreds of St. Louis-area women, you received an e-mail just like the one excerpted above in recent weeks. Originally sent by a Jefferson County loan processor on August 25, the missive eventually found its way into the inbox of Maryland Heights police detectives.
Upon investigation, the detectives deemed the message false and urged recipients to discard it.
"We have not come up with anything that would substantiate that any of this did occur," says Captain Bill Carson, commander of the detective unit. "If there is something that happened, it was not as it was described in the e-mail."
On August 30, Maryland Heights police dispatched a press release that said that neither St. Luke's Hospital nor St. Anthony's Medical Center have records that verify the alleged rape. The release also stated that neither hospital administered a rape kit during the night in question, and that area police have no record of the incident.
While the e-mail didn't appear to be malicious in its intent, the release went on, it was damaging to the Trainwreck's reputation.
It turns out that the now-infamous message originated from the keyboard of 33-year-old Sheila Shulz, who works for a mortgage company located near the saloon.
High Ridge resident Shulz says the alleged rape victim, whose story she recounted in the e-mail, is a longtime friend a 27-year-old woman who lives in the nearby Jefferson County municipality of House Springs. (Shulz declines to give the alleged victim's name and, like Maryland Heights police, does not know the names of the other two women described in the e-mail.)
Before the night in question, Shulz says, her friend was "going through a rough time, and a rough divorce." She speculates that the woman does not want to add to her misery by discussing the alleged brutal event with the police or news media.
"She's worried about how this whole thing is going to affect her. I just think she's scared to deal with it right now," Shulz adds. "I can't get any more information out of her. She's not talking to me, because she's angry at me for all the media attention, and because I gave the Maryland Heights police her name."
Detectives who questioned the alleged victim found her uncooperative, says Kevin Stewart, a community-relations officer with the police department. "She only told them so much, and then refused to answer many more questions, giving them an, 'If you don't believe me, screw you,' type of thing."
"We can't force her to cooperate," says Carson, adding that no charges have been filed against Shulz or her friend. "She's indicated that she has other problems in her life that she's dealing with right now, and she does not want to be part of this investigation."
When reached by phone, a Trainwreck employee said the saloon suffered only a modest drop in business after the e-mail began circulating.
"We regard it as a serious matter," says Tom Hayes, a Crestwood-based attorney who represents Trainwreck. "We turned it over to the police, and we're standing behind their investigation results. It's a shame this thing got circulated like that." He says the bar's management has not decided if they will pursue legal action.
Shulz's e-mail inspired an entry on popular Web site Snopes.com, which devotes itself to chronicling urban legends. "We're inculcated from childhood to learn that 'two wrongs don't make a right,'" the entry reads, "but unfortunately the warning message reproduced above is an example of piling one wrong atop others, doing more harm than good in the process."
Despite a Post-Dispatch story and television news reports calling the e-mail bogus, Shulz stands by her story. "I didn't send this e-mail out as a scare or as a lie," she says. "I still believe that she was drugged, and I still believe that she was raped."
Shulz says her company has asked her not to discuss the incident any longer via company e-mail. She adds that that the entire affair has caused her much distress. "I don't believe the media has done their job. Everyone who knows me knows I'm not a liar."
Last week seemingly to bolster Shulz's credibility a new e-mail began circulating, describing a similar incident that allegedly took place at the Trainwreck in June.
"We sat at the bar and this guy kept coming up and trying to flirt/talk with Shelly," wrote someone named Mary Beth Jamieson. "We got up to leave about 20 minutes later and Shelly could barely walk[....] I am 100% sure that my friend was drugged."
As the message made the rounds, a woman named Jessi attached her own piece of commentary: "I feel that there must be some truth to it. I wish that they could get to the bottom of it. I feel that Trainwreck and Westport want to keep it out of the press and not scar[e] away customers."