Police in St. Louis said today they suspect Wheaton native Megan Boken was shot to death during a robbery attempt. Police spokesman Dave Marzullo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that detectives are investigating the killing as a probable attempted robbery and hope to review surveillance footage from a nearby intersection.
Megan Boken was remembered Sunday for her big smile, magnetic presence and a work ethic that made her one of the area's elite volleyball players.
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Boken, 23, was shot to death Saturday while visiting St. Louis to take part in an alumni volleyball game at St. Louis University, where she played after helping lead St. Francis High School in Wheaton to a pair of state championships.
"She had this great belly laugh that would make everyone around her feel better," said Rick Butler, who coached Boken on the Sports Performance Volleyball Club team based at the Great Lakes Center in Aurora. "It really lit up the room. This is just heartbreaking."
St. Louis police said the shooting took place Saturday afternoon near the intersection of Maryland and Taylor avenues in the city's Central West End neighborhood.
According to police spokesman Dave Marzullo, witnesses reported seeing a man fire shots into Boken's vehicle before fleeing. Boken suffered gunshot wounds to the chest and neck and later was pronounced dead at a St. Louis hospital, authorities said.
Some witnesses said the man got out of Boken's vehicle before the shooting, while others said he opened the car's door from the outside, Marzullo said. Police have not yet been able to establish which version is correct.
Investigators have uncovered no evidence to indicate Boken knew the shooter, Marzullo said, adding that motive remains a mystery. Police hope to examine video from surveillance cameras posted near the intersection, he said.
Boken's family issued the following statement Sunday:
"Megan was a wonderful and beautiful human being loved by everyone she met. The family and the community are devastated by this senseless tragedy. And the family would like to thank everyone for their outpouring of support. The family asks that you keep Megan and them in your thoughts and prayers and respect their privacy at this time."
Boken was a two-time Daily Herald all-area player while at St. Francis, and she won two state titles at the Wheaton school. She continued her standout volleyball play at the college level, playing 2007 through 2010 at SLU and being part of two teams that made appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
"Megan was a vibrant young woman and a wonderful representative of St. Louis University," Chris May, the university's athletic director, said in a statement. "She contributed as much in the classroom and in the community as she did on the court."
Boken graduated from SLU in 2011 with a degree in business administration. Her LinkedIn page shows that she worked as a financial adviser at a firm in Wheaton after graduating.
The shooter was described as a black male in his mid 20s, standing about 5 feet, 8 inches tall, with a thin build and short hair. Anyone who might have information related to the crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (866) 371-8477.
Associated Press contributed to this report.