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Travis E. GLASS

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: May 25, 2001
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: July 25, 1979
Victim profile: Steffini Wilkins (female, 13)
Method of murder: Ligature strangulation
Location: Callaway County, Missouri, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on February 25, 2003
 
 
 
 
 
 
State of Missouri v. Travis E. Glass

Case Facts:

Travis Glass was convicted of murdering thirteen year old Steffini Wilkins while in the process of kidnapping her.

Steffini was the daughter of Elizabeth Campbell, who owned and ran a tavern in Hannibal called "Ole Milts." 

In March 2001, Campbell hired Glass as a bartender. During his employment, Glass went to Campbell's home, also in Hannibal, on at least three occasions. There were also occasions when Steffini would visit the bar during the day where Glass would talk to her and joke around with her. Once he called her a "hottie." Glass also spoke with Steffini on the telephone. Approximately two weeks before Steffini's murder, Campbell fired Glass.

On May 24, 2001, at 8:30 p.m., Campbell left for work and took her two younger sons to the babysitter while Steffini stayed home. That evening, Steffini talked with a friend on the phone from 10:40 p.m. until 11:15 or 11:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, at Ole Milts, Campbell saw Glass drinking beer. When he got up to leave, she told him to be sure to take his belongings that were behind the bar. Glass responded that he had his things and then turned to leave. Before exiting, he looked Campbell in the eye, gave her a "very snide sneer," and walked out the door.

Glass left the bar in his car, a black Oldsmobile, between 11:10 and 11:15 p.m. Around 11:30, Campbell's neighbor returned from work to his home and noticed a black Oldsmobile parked in front of Campbell's house.

Around 1:00 a.m., May 25, 2001, Michael King awoke to the sound of Glass honking his car horn and flashing his headlights into King's bedroom. King and Glass were friends, so he got dressed and went outside. When King got to the car, Glass asked King if he hated him. King got into the passenger side of the car, and they sat in King's driveway smoking cigarettes and talking for about two hours.

During this time, King noticed Glass was dirty and muddy. King also noticed a mark or injury on the palm of Glass's hand. Before Glass left, he asked King to replace a fuse in the trunk. As he was working under the hood, King found a size D "flashlight battery" next to the windshield wipers.

When Campbell came home from work around 3:00 a.m., she did not find Steffini in her room. Campbell checked the other rooms, but Steffini was not in the house. 

After making several calls to friends and family, Campbell contacted the police. Sergeant Michael Lawzano of the Hannibal Police was assigned to investigate Steffini's disappearance.

During the early morning hours of May 25, 2001, a fisherman spotted a female body on the Indian Access Road at the Salt River campground in Ralls County. The nude body, later identified as the body of Steffini Wilkins, was lying face down in the grass with her head turned to the right.

The fisherman contacted law enforcement, and an ambulance was called to the scene. Shortly thereafter, the coroner arrived, examined Steffini's body, and determined she was deceased.

The coroner ruled the cause of death as asphyxiation secondary to compression of the neck by a ligature. An injury of this type requires continued pressure to cause death over a period of time, with 30 to 40 seconds to lose consciousness and from two to three minutes to cause brain death.

Corporal David Hall, a criminal investigator for the Missouri Highway Patrol, examined the scene and seized hairs found on Steffini's back. Other officers found a piece of bra strap up the roadway and noted several impressions in the mud near Steffini's body. The officers also discovered several pieces of a broken flashlight in the parking lot and driveway area.

Sergeant Lawzano was also called to the scene. While Lawzano was investigating the scene at the Indian Camp Access area, his detectives were sent to Campbell's home, where they learned from Campbell's neighbor that he had seen a black Oldsmobile at Campbell's home the night before.

Campbell informed the officers that Glass was the only person she knew who drove a black Oldsmobile. After checking motor vehicle records, Lawzano confirmed that a 1996 black Oldsmobile was registered to Travis Glass.

Sometime before noon on May 25, 2001, Lawzano and Trooper Scott Miller went to Glass's home where they saw a 1996 black Oldsmobile parked in the driveway. When they arrived at the house, Glass's grandparents and uncle were outside, and the officers asked to speak to Glass.

Glass came outside to speak with them, and Lawzano asked Glass if he had any information about Steffini's disappearance. Glass denied knowing anything about it, so Lawzano asked him if he had been to her house. Glass denied having been there and gave an account of his whereabouts from the night before.

Lawzano asked Glass about the clothes he had been wearing the night before, and Glass told him they were inside in the washer. Lawzano asked Glass if he would show him the clothes, which he did. Another officer later observed that there was a lot of sand on the clothes and in the bottom of the washing machine.

At 11:25 a.m., Lawzano asked for and received consent from Glass to search his car. Lawzano observed what he felt were signs of a struggle on the hood and trunk of the car. He saw "very distinct" mud smears that appeared to come from small fingers being dragged across the trunk of the car.

Lawzano asked Glass how the mud got on the car, and Glass responded that he did not know. Lawzano seized hairs that were on the hood and trunk of the car.

At some point that day, officers seized a pair of blue jeans from the back of the car. Also, what was later confirmed to be Steffini's blood was found on the back of the front license plate and exterior of the car.

 
 

Facts:

Travis Glass was convicted of murdering thirteen year old Steffini Wilkins while in the process of kidnapping her. Steffini was the daughter of Elizabeth Campbell, who owned and ran a tavern in Hannibal called "Ole Milts." In March 2001, Campbell hired Glass as a bartender. During his employment, Glass went to Campbell's home, also in Hannibal, on at least three occasions. There were also occasions when Steffini would visit the bar during the day where Glass would talk to her and joke around with her. Once he called her a "hottie." Glass also spoke with Steffini on the telephone. Approximately two weeks before Steffini's murder, Campbell fired Glass.

On May 24, 2001, at 8:30 p.m., Campbell left for work and took her two younger sons to the babysitter while Steffini stayed home. That evening, Steffini talked with a friend on the phone from 10:40 p.m. until 11:15 or 11:30 p.m. Meanwhile, at Ole Milts, Campbell saw Glass drinking beer. When he got up to leave, she told him to be sure to take his belongings that were behind the bar. Glass responded that he had his things and then turned to leave. Before exiting, he looked Campbell in the eye, gave her a "very snide sneer," ; and walked out the door.

Glass left the bar in his car, a black Oldsmobile, between 11:10 and 11:15 p.m. Around 11:30, Campbell's neighbor returned from work to his home and noticed a black Oldsmobile parked in front of Campbell's house.

Around 1:00 a.m., May 25, 2001, Michael King awoke to the sound of Glass honking his car horn and flashing his headlights into King's bedroom. King and Glass were friends, so he got dressed and went outside. When King got to the car, Glass asked King if he hated him. King got into the passenger side of the car, and they sat in King's driveway smoking cigarettes and talking for about two hours.

During this time, King noticed Glass was dirty and muddy. King also noticed a mark or injury on the palm of Glass's hand. Before Glass left, he asked King to replace a fuse in the trunk. As he was working under the hood, King found a size D "flashlight battery" next to the windshield wipers.

When Campbell came home from work around 3:00 a.m., she did not find Steffini in her room. Campbell checked the other rooms, but Steffini was not in the house. While in Steffini's room, Campbell noticed that Steffini's underwear was still inside the jeans she had been wearing when Campbell had left for work, and that one of the pant legs was inside out. Steffini did not ordinarily take her jeans off in that manner. After making several calls to friends and family, Campbell contacted the police. Sergeant Michael Lawzano of the Hannibal Police was assigned to investigate Steffini's disappearance.

During the early morning hours of May 25, 2001, a fisherman spotted a female body on the Indian Access Road at the Salt River campground in Ralls County. The nude body, later identified as the body of Steffini Wilkins, was lying face down in the grass with her head turned to the right. The fisherman contacted law enforcement, and an ambulance was called to the scene. Shortly thereafter, the coroner arrived, examined Steffini's body, and determined she was deceased.

Steffini's face appeared battered and bruised, and there was blood coming from out of her nose. Her body was covered in mud, dirt, and grass. There were muddy shoe prints in the middle of her back and along her shoulder blades. There was also a bra strap tied extremely tightly around her neck that cut about a half inch into her flesh.

An autopsy revealed abrasions on Steffini's left cheek, right shoulder, lower neck, shoulder, breasts, upper and lower chest, lower abdomen, along her back, along her right left lower knee, and right lower leg. She also had multiple bruises on her face, swollen eyes, and a laceration above her right eyebrow.   The linear abrasions on Steffini's back were consistent with being dragged.

The autopsy also revealed multiple hemorrhages in the head, suggesting a blunt trauma injury such as being struck by a fist or object. Steffini had six linear abrasions on the right side of her neck that corresponded with the ligature from the bra strap that was tied around her neck, which suggested that the ligature had been moved. There were also hemorrhages in her kidney and appendix.

In addition, there was a one-inch laceration to one of the folds of skin surrounding her vagina, suggesting blunt trauma to that area through penetration. The age of the vaginal laceration was consistent with other bruises around that area and the other bruises on her body in that there was no evidence that healing had taken place.

The coroner ruled the cause of death as asphyxiation secondary to compression of the neck by a ligature. An injury of this type requires continued pressure to cause death over a period of time, with 30 to 40 seconds to lose consciousness and from two to three minutes to cause brain death.

Corporal David Hall, a criminal investigator for the Missouri Highway Patrol, examined the scene and seized hairs found on Steffini's back. Other officers found a piece of bra strap up the roadway and noted several impressions in the mud near Steffini's body. The officers also discovered several pieces of a broken flashlight in the parking lot and driveway area.

Sergeant Lawzano was also called to the scene. While Lawzano was investigating the scene at the Indian Camp Access area, his detectives were sent to Campbell's home, where they learned from Campbell's neighbor that he had seen a black Oldsmobile at Campbell's home the night before. Campbell informed the officers that Glass was the only person she knew who drove a black Oldsmobile. After checking motor vehicle records, Lawzano confirmed that a 1996 black Oldsmobile was registered to Travis Glass.

Sometime before noon on May 25, 2001, Lawzano and Trooper Scott Miller went to Glass's home where they saw a 1996 black Oldsmobile parked in the driveway. When they arrived at the house, Glass's grandparents and uncle were outside, and the officers asked to speak to Glass.

Glass came outside to speak with them, and Lawzano asked Glass if he had any information about Steffini's disappearance. Glass denied knowing anything about it, so Lawzano asked him if he had been to her house. Glass denied having been there and gave an account of his whereabouts from the night before.

Lawzano asked Glass about the clothes he had been wearing the night before, and Glass told him they were inside in the washer. Lawzano asked Glass if he would show him the clothes, which he did. Another officer later observed that there was a lot of sand on the clothes and in the bottom of the washing machine.

At 11:25 a.m., Lawzano asked for and received consent from Glass to search his car. Lawzano observed what he felt were signs of a struggle on the hood and trunk of the car. He saw "very distinct" mud smears that appeared to come from small fingers being dragged across the trunk of the car. Lawzano asked Glass how the mud got on the car, and Glass responded that he did not know. Lawzano seized hairs that were on the hood and trunk of the car. At some point that day, officers seized a pair of blue jeans from the back of the car. Also, what was later confirmed to be Steffini's blood was found on the back of the front license plate and exterior of the car.

Lawzano then asked Glass to accompany him to the Marion County Sheriff's Department to give a written statement, and Glass agreed. Neither Lawzano nor any other officer placed Glass under arrest or in handcuffs at that time. Glass and Lawzano rode to the station, which was less than a mile from Glass's home, in a cruiser driven by Corporal Holden, because Lawzano did not have a car, and Glass's car was still in the process of being searched. On the way to the station, they stopped so Glass could go, unattended, into a convenience store to purchase cigarettes.

While at the station, Glass gave three written statements over a period of hours. The first was given to Lawzano, and was not preceded by a Miranda warning. The second statement was given to Sergeant Michael Platte of the Missouri Highway Patrol after Glass had been given a Miranda warning and had signed a waiver of his Miranda rights. Finally, the third was given to Lawzano, who reminded him of his Miranda waiver prior to taking the statement. Glass was not placed under arrest prior to giving any of the statements. The circumstances and content of each statement are as follows.

1. First written statement - to Sergeant Lawzano

When they arrived at the station, Lawzano and Glass went over the verbal statement Glass had given earlier at his home. Glass asked Lawzano to write it out for him, after which Glass read it, agreed it was accurate, and signed it around 1:32 p.m. In this first written statement, Glass admitted he went to Ole Milts bar, that he drank between 12 and 16 cans of beer, that he played darts for quite a bit, and then left between 11:00 and 11:30 p.m. He stated that he knew Campbell owned the bar, and that he knew Steffini through his having worked at the bar.

In the statement, Glass also admitted he had been to Campbell's home a few times while he worked for her, but that the last time he had been there was three weeks prior. Glass mentioned he had e-mailed Steffini once two or three months prior to her disappearance, but that she had never responded to his e-mail. In the statement, Glass said that after he left the bar, he went to his friend Mike King's house, where he talked with him in his car for two to three hours before driving home and going to bed. Lawzano then asked Glass if it was possible that he went to the Campbell's home earlier that morning, and Glass responded that he did not remember being there, but that anything was possible because he was so intoxicated.

2. Second written statement - to Sergeant Platte

Sometime after noon, Sergeant Michael Platte arrived at the Marion County Sheriff's Department and was told of Glass's interview with Lawzano. Around 3:00 p.m., Platte explained Glass's Miranda rights to him and asked him if he understood those rights. Glass indicated he understood, signed a waiver of rights form, and agreed to talk with Platte. Initially, Glass gave Platte the same story he told Lawzano.

Platte asked Glass about Steffini, and Glass stated she was a cheerleader who liked all kinds of sports. Glass described her as "all-right looking" ; and again denied going to Campbell's home. At this, Platte expressed his disbelief, and then confronted Glass with several inconsistencies in his story.

Platte told Glass Steffini was still alive and was going to recover and "tell her story." Platte then "posed a possible scenario" where Glass had been at the bar and, thinking Steffini would be home alone, decided to go to her house to "get closer to her." Platte suggested maybe "things started happening" between them, but then maybe she changed her mind, and everything went to "hell in a handbasket." Platte said if that was the case, then Glass needed to tell his story. Glass responded "you're right."

Glass said when he left Ole Milts he decided to go see Steffini. Glass said he went to her home, knocked on the door, and a few minutes later, Steffini answered wearing nothing but blue boxers and a bra. He said he entered the house and they started kissing. Glass said she began to perform oral sex on him. Glass stated that when he tried to take it further, she started to scream that she was going to call her mom. At that point, Glass said he put his hand on her mouth to try to quiet her down but that she went limp after a few minutes and he could not find her pulse. So, Glass said he picked her up and put her in his car to go find help. He said at this point she was totally nude except for her bra, which was pulled up to reveal her breasts.

Glass stated he drove to the river access where her body was found. He said once they were there, Steffini started making wheezing noises like she was attempting to breathe. He stated that he picked her up out of his car and put her on the hood, but that in the process she fell to the ground several times. He said she made more sounds, so he set her down on the ground and left.

Glass denied penetrating her vagina with his penis or performing oral sex on her. Rather, he stated he had only licked her breasts. Glass stated that her clothing, with the exception of her bra, would all be found in the living room area.

At approximately 3:45 p.m., Platte asked Glass to write a statement containing the above information. Glass did so and drew a map of where he left her body. Corporal Hall then "informed" Platte, so that Glass could hear, that Steffini had died. Upon hearing that, Glass told Platte to get a gun because he did not deserve to live.

3. Third written statement - to Sergeant Lawzano

After Glass's interview with Platte, Lawzano took Glass outside to smoke some cigarettes. While they were outside, Glass said he wanted to tell Lawzano everything. Lawzano reminded Glass of his Miranda rights and then took Glass back into the interview room. Before re-entering the room, Lawzano served Glass with a search warrant for the car. Glass then went over the same details he had told Platte, but became emotional when Lawzano told him there were still some blanks in his story.

Glass told him when Steffini was on the trunk of his car, she was gasping for breath and was blue in the face. Glass stated he "prayed to God, 'God forgive me for what I am about to do,'" then he "wrapped her bra strap around her throat" and choked her because she was "suffering bad." He then set her on the ground and left for King's home. As before, Lawzano wrote the statement for Glass, then Glass read it, agreed it was accurate, and signed it. This interview concluded at 8:10 p.m.

Glass was then placed under arrest and examined. He had scratches on his upper right shoulder. Sexual assault kits were taken from Glass and Steffini, which included hair, saliva and blood samples, but no evidence of seminal fluid was admitted at trial. DNA material extracted from the blood found on Glass's license plate, the jeans found in the backseat of Glass's car, and a hair from Glass's trunk were consistent with Steffini's DNA profile and not Glass's. Hair comparisons were conducted, and the hairs found on Steffini's back were consistent with Glass's pubic hairs. A hair seized from the trunk of Glass's car was found to be "similar in microscopic characteristics" to Steffini's hair.

In addition, glitter particles found on Steffini's bedspread, the license plate from Glass's car, and the jeans seized from the back of Glass's car all had the same physical characteristics, including having the same anomaly around the edges, which indicated they came from the same cutter. Steffini had many products in her bedroom that contained glitter, including gel pens, fingernail polish, and body spray.

On July 5, 2001, Corporal Hall received permission from Glass's grandfather, George Patre, to conduct a search of his home. Glass was raised by his grandparents, George and Wanetta Patre, and had lived with them in their house from infancy. The home was built such that it had doorways but no doors, except for the door to the bathroom, and there was no hallway. As a result, all of the members of the household had to walk through the various rooms in order to reach other rooms. Glass's room had three doorways, one leading to a room containing a computer area, one leading to the living room, and one leading to another bedroom. As such, all of the residents of the Patre home had joint access to Glass's room for most purposes.

Hall limited the search to Glass's room and the common computer area. In the computer area, officers seized various items, including financial documents, papers, and receipts. In Glass's room, officers also seized paperwork, note paper and financial receipts. In one of these locations, Hall found a receipt and business card with Sandra Harding's name on it. Hall subsequently interviewed Harding, and she told him about two separate occasions, approximately a month before Steffini's murder, on which Glass had walked unannounced and uninvited into Harding's home late at night. On each occasion, either Harding's daughter, Nicole Withrow, or her daughter's friend, Samantha Bramlett, were present. On one such occasion, Harding was not home, but her daughters, one fourteen and one fifteen, were. Harding told Hall she knew Glass because they had been co-workers at Dura Automotive. While they were co-workers, Glass had been to Harding's home, yet during one of the walk-in incidents, he acted confused as to whether he was in his home. At the penalty phase trial, the State introduced testimony from Withrow and Bramlett about the incidents as non-statutory aggravating factors.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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