Phillip Cutler charged with the killing of his childhod friends girlfriend
A pregnant St. Louis teacher gunned down in her home was killed by her boyfriend’s childhood friend, prosecutors said Thursday. The boyriend found 30-year-old Jocelyn Peters, who was seven months pregnant, slain in her Central West End apartment in March,.
His friend, Phillip Cutler of Muskogee, Okla., now faces two counts of both first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the third-grade teacher’s death. The boyfriend, a staff member of St. Louis Public Schools, has not been charged in the March 24 killing.
Investigators said Peters’ boyfriend went to Chicago for spring break the week she was killed and left his keys, which included keys to Peters’ apartment, in his car so Cutler could use the car.
A month earlier, Peters’ boyfriend had asked Cutler to come to St. Louis that week in a text message conversation, and Cutler told him not to forget to send “the package,” according to a probable cause statement. The boyfriend shipped the package overnight March 7, the document showed.
Pall bearers taking Joclyn Peters to her final resting place
Cutler traveled to St. Louis on March 21 and slept at his friend’s sister’s house in his room, where Peters’ boyfriend kept a handgun, investigators said. The pair spoke on the phone for two minutes the night before Peters was killed, the document showed.
Cellphone records revealed that a phone used by Cutler was near the victim’s apartment within the rough possible time of her death at 3 a.m., investigators said. Cutler told police he had been sleeping at his friend’s sister’s home when she was killed.
Detectives found no evidence of forced entry in Peters’ home and discovered her boyfriend’s car, which still had his keys in it, near her building. Police said a single gunshot wound to Peters’ head caused her and the fetus’ deaths.
The day Peters died, her boyfriend called his estranged wife from police headquarters after asking investigators if he could call his daughter, according to the court documents. He asked his wife to meet Cutler to give him a different set of keys, but police interrupted the meeting and arrested Cutler.
Cutler went back to Oklahoma upon his release the following day. Police have arrested him in Oklahoma.
Representatives for prosecutors didn’t immediately return requests for comment Friday night. The boyfriend’s name was not disclosed in Cutler’s charging documents, and officials with St. Louis Public Schools said no one was available to discuss the case.
Peters had named her expected baby Micah Leight. She taught for four years at Mann Elementary, winning a 2014 Pettus Award for Excellence from St. Louis Public Schools. Principal Nicole Conaway told mourners she offered Peters a job only 15 minutes into her interview and never regretted it, the Post-Dispatch reported.
“She was a natural in the classroom, creating an environment where children took charge of their learning,” Conaway said. “She had high expectations for herself and for her students. She came in early, stayed late, begged me to open the doors on holidays and on weekends. In my 20 years in education, she will always be one of the very best educators I’ve had the honor of working with.”