State of Missouri v. Mark Anthony Gill
The victim, Ralph Lee Lape,
Jr., lived alone in rural Cape Girardeau County. During the summer
of 2002, Mr. Lape allowed Gill to live in a camper trailer on his
property as a favor to a mutual friend.
Mr. Lape spent the Fourth of
July holiday weekend at Kentucky Lake, while Gill and a friend,
Justin Brown, remained at Mr. Lape's home. During this time, Brown
looked through Mr. Lape's personal papers and learned that he had a
large amount of money in his bank account.
Brown and Gill decided that
they would kill Mr. Lape for his money, and on Saturday, July 6,
they began preparations for the killing. They obtained a .22 pistol
from Mr. Lape's home and bought a roll of duct tape, and they
decided to "get him" in the garage because "once you pull in the
garage can't nobody see."
Mr. Lape arrived home from
Kentucky Lake on Sunday, July 7, at approximately 5:30 p.m. Gill and
Brown, who were waiting in the garage, opened the garage door for
him. After Mr. Lape stepped out of his extended cab pickup truck,
Gill and Brown "grabbed him," and Gill told Mr. Lape that they "just
wanted his money."
Mr. Lape pleaded to Gill, "You
don't have to do this…I'll give you what you want. Mark, I ain't
done nothing but try to help you." Gill and Brown then bound Mr.
Lape with plastic ties and the duct tape. They pushed up the
backseat of Mr. Lape's truck and "slid him in." They divided $240
they found in a ziplock bag that Mr. Lape had been carrying. Gill
then put shovels in the back of the truck because he "knew what [he]
was fixin' to do, [he] was going to hell."
Gill drove the truck south
on Interstate 55 as Brown held Mr. Lape down on the floorboard.
After finding Mr. Lape's ATM bankcard in the truck, Gill asked him
for the pin number, and he told them the number "right off." Gill
and Brown drove Mr. Lape approximately 80 miles to a desolate
cornfield near Portageville, where they took turns "knocking down
corn" and "digging a hole."
While one of them dug the
hole, the other sat in the truck and watched Mr. Lape. After digging
the hole, they took Mr. Lape out of the truck and removed the duct
tape and plastic ties. Ignoring Mr. Lape's pleas for mercy, Gill and
Brown pushed him into the hole.
Then one of them pointed the
.22 pistol at Mr. Lape and pulled the trigger, but the gun misfired.
The trigger was pulled a second time, but there was another misfire.
On the third try, the gun fired and shot Mr. Lape in the forehead,
killing him. Gill and Brown then "lined him up in the hole" and
removed all of his clothing and jewelry.
Before they buried Mr. Lape,
Brown "stepped on his head" in order to make it fit in the hole. An
autopsy revealed that, in addition to the gunshot wound, Mr. Lape
had a skull fracture that was "not caused by the bullet," three
separate bruises on his head, bruising in his chest, and one of his
ribs was completely broken in two.
After killing Mr. Lape, Gill
and Brown changed clothes back at the house and withdrew money from
Mr. Lape's bank account with his ATM card. They then drove to St.
Louis, withdrew more money, and spent nearly a thousand dollars of
the money at strip clubs. After spending the night at the Adam's
Mark hotel in St. Louis, Gill and Brown drove back to Mr. Lape's
house, stopping along the way to withdraw more money from Mr. Lape's
Once at the house, Gill and
Brown began to dispose of the evidence. They dumped the shovels in a
wooded area and burned their clothing and the clothing they had
removed from Mr. Lape's body. They threw the gun, Mr. Lape's jewelry,
and other evidence that would not burn into the Mississippi River.
Then they drove to Paducah, Kentucky, abandoned Mr. Lape's truck in
a hospital parking lot, and returned to Mr. Lape's house. When Mr.
Lape's family members inquired about his whereabouts, Gill and Brown
told them that he was at Kentucky Lake.
Having withdrawn nearly all
of the money from Mr. Lape's bank account that was accessible with
an ATM card, Gill and Brown used Mr. Lape's computer to transfer
$55,000 from another account to the ATM-accessible account. After a
friend told Gill that there is no limit in Las Vegas on the amount
of money that can be withdrawn from an ATM, Gill and his girlfriend
drove there and were married. Gill withdrew approximately $1,600
from Mr. Lape's account while on the trip.
Ultimately, Gill was
arrested in New Mexico. He initially denied any involvement in Mr.
Lape's disappearance and claimed he had permission to use the ATM
card. However, he later confessed to planning and participating in
the murder, but claimed it was Brown who shot Mr. Lape.
Mark Anthony Gill