A convicted murderer serving a life sentence for killing a man in 1995 has confessed to strangling four women five years earlier, St. Louis-area prosecutors announced Monday. The string of murders were all carried out by the so-called “package killer” more than 30 years ago.
Gary Muehlberg, a 73-year-old inmate at the Potosi Correctional Center in southeastern Missouri, confessed to the 1990 killings after O’Fallon police Detective Jodi Weber reopened the cold case and linked one of the killings to Muehlberg through DNA testing, authorities said at a news conference.
Prosecutors from Lincoln, St. Charles and St. Louis counties, which was where the victims’ bodies were found, announced four new counts of first-degree murder against Muehlberg for the killings of Robyn Mihan, Brenda Pruitt, Donna Reitmeyer and Sandy Little.
Known at the time as the “package killer,” Gary Muehlberg, 73, will be formally charged today in the deaths of three women, killed between 1990-1991. A recent DNA hit linked him.
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“It may have taken a while, but your family member was not forgotten,” St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar told relatives of the victims who attended the news conference.
Lohmar said all of the killings had connections to an area of south St. Louis that was known at the time for prostitution, but he declined to elaborate. He said authorities have not determined a motive for the killings.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the bodies of all four women were found in containers — two in garbage cans, one in a wooden box and one between two mattresses. They became known as the “package killer” murders.
Muehlberg was sentenced to life in prison in 1995 for the killing of Kenneth Atchison. Lohmar said Muehlberg killed Atchison in a dispute over money.
Atchison’s body was found in Muehlberg’s basement in a makeshift coffin, CBS affiliate KMOV-TV reported.
The body of one of the victims was found in O’Fallon, prompting Weber to reopen the case in 2008. She began trying to find a match of DNA samples. Finally, this spring, DNA evidence connected Muehlberg to Mihan.
“Incredible!” Weber said when asked about her reaction to the DNA match.
“DNA technology have allowed investigators to do types of analysis that could not be done 20 or 30 years ago,” the Maryland Heights Police Department said in a statement. “Our detectives never gave up on this case and always maintained hope that it would be solved one day.”
Prosecutors then began talking to Muehlberg and agreed not to pursue the death penalty in exchange for his cooperation, which led to his eventual confession, Lohmar said.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Muehlberg wrote a letter to Weber in August expressing remorse for the killings.
“I must live with my past — the good and bad parts. No more running,” he wrote.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said authorities continue to investigate to see if Muehlberg might have committed other crimes.
“There’s at least some indication out there to suggest that,” Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Wood said.
Dawn McIntosh, the daughter of Donna Reitmeyer, said she was thrilled to learn of the charges.
“Because I don’t think she rested in peace knowing that he was still out there,” McIntosh said of her mother. “So I’m glad he was caught.”
Saundra Kuehnle, now 75, recalled that her daughter Robyn had three dimples and a smile that lit up the room. Mihan was just 18 when she died.
“I had hounded the police and detectives forever, off and on, over the years,” Kuehnle said. “A long time to wait, but everything in God’s time.”