Investigators are still putting the pieces together, trying to link Ericka Wade’s death to Nathan Fortner, the man responsible for shooting three people Tuesday before shooting himself.
Washington County Sheriff Andy Skiles said Thursday afternoon that investigators are still running down leads and Nathan Fortner is their suspect. He said hopefully they will be able to piece it together soon.
Ericka Wade’s body was found on a farm in Washington County off Doc Wallen Road after St. Francois County deputies pieced together information a murder victim, Danielle Bement, had given them Monday about being sexual assaulted at a rural location by Fortner, her former boyfriend.
Family and friends had started searching for Wade because she hadn’t been seen since late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.
The Washington County coroner said Wade died of strangulation. Authorities don’t have enough evidence to tell if she had been sexually assaulted but they don’t believe she was.
Wade knew Fortner but was not friends with him, family and friends say. Friends told St. Louis media that they believe Wade was lured to a location by Fortner, believing that she had received a text from a friend who needed help. Skiles wouldn’t comment on that.
Fortner’s parents told KSDK Wednesday that their son suffered from bipolar disorder and was not taking his prescription.
Paul and Mary Fortner shared a suicide note he left behind that states the 25-year-old man was sick of life, angry and innocent of his pending charges. He said he hoped God forgives him and he knew his family would be mad at him.
He said he was upset his girlfriend, Danielle Bement, wouldn’t let him see their child. He also states, “If I can’t have Cam. Dani can’t either. It’s her fault.”
Fortner’s visitation will be held today at 4:30 p.m. at Declue Funeral Home in Potosi. Funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Declue Chapel. He will be buried at the Big River Cemetery in Irondale.
He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head Tuesday morning after police confronted him about 500 feet from the Boulder Drive duplex where he shot and killed his former girlfriend, her mother and her mother’s boyfriend in front of two children.
The Bonne Terre victims, along with Fortner, were shot with a 357 pistol reportedly taken by Fortner from the home of a relative in Farmington.
Farmington Police Chief Rick Baker said while the officers were at the home taking the report, the homeowner discovered a note left by Fortner. About the same time the man received a text from his wife indicating that Fortner might be suicidal and police should check the area of Parkland Health Center.
Officers immediately went to the hospital located off Liberty Street but could not find a car matching the description of the one being driven by Fortner. At that point the police called the Bonne Terre Police Department to ask them to check Parkland North.
Before police could arrive at the hospital, dispatchers reportedly received a frantic call before 10 a.m. from a woman saying a man was trying to kick in the door of the home at 113 Boulder Drive in the new Boulder Creek Duplexes off Raider Road right next to the hospital. That woman was one of the victims shot moments later.
The victims of the shooting in Bonne Terre were Fortner’s former girlfriend, Bement, 19; her mother, Christine Snider, 37; and Snider’s live-in boyfriend, Derek Nash, 35. Bement, who had an 18-month-old son with Fortner, had been temporarily living with the couple and their children.
St. Francois County Coroner Jim Coplin said Snider died of a gunshot wound to the chest. Nash and Bement died of gunshot wounds to the head. Coplin said funeral arrangements for Bement and Snider will be handled by McSpadden Funeral Home in Ellington. Arrangements weren’t complete as of 6 p.m.
Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.