Authorities charged two 18-year-old men Friday with the attempted robbery and murder of Megan Boken, ending a nearly weeklong hunt for the Wheaton volleyball star's killer.
Police identified Keith Esters and Johnathan Perkins through a cellphone stolen in an earlier robbery near the area of St. Louis where the 23-year-old Boken was fatally shot last Saturday. Prosecutors said both men admitted their involvement.
Authorities named Esters as the shooter. He told police Perkins agreed to drive him to the city's Central West End to commit a robbery, according to court records.
Esters said he selected Boken after seeing her speaking on a cellphone, prosecutors said. He is accused of shooting her twice in the neck and chest while trying to rob her. The slaying happened about 2:20 p.m. in broad daylight.
Esters, of Bel Ridge in northern suburban St. Louis, faces charges of first-degree murder, armed criminal action and attempted first-degree robbery. Perkins, of St. Louis, was charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action and attempted second-degree robbery. The men are being held without bail and are expected in court next week.
The charges brought some comfort to Boken's friends and family members, who were mourning her death at a funeral and prayer vigil Thursday -- the same day the suspects were apprehended.
"I'm just glad that we've got them locked up and this can't happen to anyone else, at least not from them," said Sarah Entzeroth, who was with Boken just moments before the robbery. "Now we have once less thing to worry about and we can focus on what's important: remembering the good times and keeping Megan alive in any way we can."
Boken was a two-time Daily Herald all-area player at Wheaton's St. Francis High School, helping lead the team to two state championships. She went on to graduate from St. Louis University, where she was part of two teams appearing in the NCAA Tournament. She worked as a financial adviser at Edward Jones in Wheaton.
The Wheaton native visited St. Louis last weekend for a job interview and to play in an alumni volleyball game at her alma mater. She and Entzeroth had planned to room together and were working on housing arrangements.
Police said Boken was sitting in her parked car in an upscale neighborhood when witnesses heard gunshots and saw a man run from the vehicle. For five days, police sought tips from the public, and rewards of more than $30,000 were offered for information.
Prosecutors said the investigation eventually focused on a cellphone taken in another robbery in the same area. The phone led police to Esters' girlfriend, who told detectives Esters admitted involvement in Boken's shooting, according to court records. She also told police Esters planned the robbery with Perkins, who is his cousin.
Perkins parked his vehicle within sight and waited for Esters to return after Boken was shot, prosecutors said.
The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office announced the charges in the high-profile case Friday at a news briefing after speaking with Boken's family. Assistant Circuit Attorney Steve Capizzi said authorities were "relieved" with the outcome, but he cautioned that all cases are taken seriously, no matter much attention they get.
"We're satisfied the case has come out the way it has and all the hard work has paid off, but no more so than any other case," he said. "We feel that way every day."
Entzeroth praised St. Louis police for "working every single hour since the moment this happened to find these people." She said she hopes her friend's killers don't achieve "attention or infamy" because of the case.
"They're so low, they don't even deserve anyone to even know their names," she said.