A woman accused of murdering her husband entered a guilty plea in Ste. Genevieve County Friday and learned she will spend the rest of her life behind bars.
Susan J. Armantrout, of Farmington, had originally been charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, and abandonment of a corpse in connection with the Dec. 17, 2018 murder of her husband, Aaron Armantrout.
As part of a plea agreement, she entered a guilty plea to one count of first-degree murder, receiving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The case had been scheduled for trial in June in Madison County on a change of venue from Ste. Genevieve.
She was being held in Ste. Genevieve County Jail and due to precautions associated with the recent spread of the COVID-19 virus, Friday’s plea hearing was held in Ste. Genevieve rather than Madison County as previously scheduled.
According to a probable cause statement in the case, at 8:27 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2018, a deputy with the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Department was called to make contact with Aaron M. Armantrout, 36, regarding threats.
Aaron Armantrout told the deputy that his wife, Susan, had been making death threats toward him for the last few months. He declined to file a formal complaint despite the deputy’s encouragement.
On Dec. 15, 2018, at 12:02 p.m., the same deputy was dispatched to call Aaron Armantrout's father, who reported that his son was missing. The man told the deputy that Aaron Armantrout was supposed to meet his sister the day before, but never showed up.
The man said family members went to Aaron Armantrout's home located in the 17,000 block of Route D in Ste. Genevieve County looking for him earlier that morning. Aaron Armantrout was not home and his BMW was also gone. The father told the deputy that a family friend had just left the residence and told him the house smelled like bleach.
On the morning of Dec. 15, 2018, another deputy with Ste. Genevieve Sheriff’s Department was called by the deputy and briefed on what was going on. The other deputy told the deputy to ask everyone to exit the home and wait for other deputies to arrive.
The three deputies all went inside the house to ensure there was no one else in there and no one was in need of medical assistance. It was noted in the report that when they entered the home there was a strong smell of cleaning chemicals and the smell was strongest in the master bedroom, where the couple slept.
The door leading into the master bedroom was locked and once the lock was picked and officers were able to get inside, they saw an area of carpet that had been recently cleaned. They also saw cleaning supplies in the adjoining bathroom.
One deputy reported that at this point it was unclear where Susan Armantrout was and a search began for both Aaron and Susan Armantrout, to determine what or if anything had happened to either of them. Aaron Armantrout was listed as a missing person and Susan Armantrout was listed as wanted for questioning.
After the sheriff’s department was done investigating the home, it was turned back over to the reporting party who was there for the deputy’s initial arrival at the home. It was also noted in the report that the portion of the carpet in the master bedroom was wet with an extreme odor of bleach.
At 10:34 p.m. on Dec. 16, 2018, a deputy was called by an officer who told him Susan Armantrout had been located and detained at a home in the 100 block of Dover St. in Bonne Terre. It was later discovered the home was occupied by an acquaintance of Susan Armantrout and the woman reported Susan Armantrout had confessed to her that she had killed her husband, Aaron, by shooting him.
Susan Armantrout was taken into custody and transported to the Ste. Genevieve County Jail. The truck she had been driving was secured by law enforcement and later towed to the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Office Impound Yard.
When the Ste. Genevieve deputy arrived at the Bonne Terre Police Department, he spoke with the Bonne Terre woman regarding statements made to her by Susan Armantrout pertaining to her husband’s death. The woman told the deputy that Susan Armantrout had arrived at her home earlier on the evening of Dec. 16, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.
The woman said Susan Armantrout told her that she had killed her husband, Aaron, by shooting him. She told the woman that she placed his body in the trunk of the BMW and jammed the lock.
Early on the morning of Dec. 17, 2018, officers with the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Department interviewed another friend of Susan Armantrout, who they believed, through the course of the investigation to have been in contact with her at or around the time that Aaron Armantrout had gone missing.
During the course of the interview, the woman said that Susan Armantrout admitted to her that she killed her husband by shooting him. She also said she had heard Susan Armantrout on numerous occasions state she was going to kill her husband.
At 10:15 a.m. on Dec. 17, 2018, the deputy was notified by the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Jail that Susan Armantrout had asked to speak with him. Susan Armantrout was brought to the interview room and she immediately began telling him that she had shot and killed her husband.
The deputy reported that he did not interrupt Susan Armantrout's confession until she stopped talking about murdering her husband. At that point, the deputy told Susan Armantrout he needed to ask her some questions and advised her of her Miranda rights.
He said Susan Armantrout gave a very detailed confession and said she had hidden the body in the BMW’s trunk and parked the car in a storage shed in Potosi. She also said she had shot her husband in the head with a pistol in the master bedroom and had cleaned up the scene using a type of cleaner with bleach in it.
She claimed she alone dragged her husband’s lifeless body through the garage and put him into his car. She said she drove the body to Potosi and was picked up by her friend, who was driving her pickup truck.
Susan Armantrout described the location where she hid the body and BMW as a storage locker located at 8 and U Storage in Potosi. During the course of the investigation, the deputy interviewed Susan Armantrout's mother, who described Susan Armantrout's attempt to shoot her husband the previous fall at Lake Hanna in St. Francois County.
Susan Armantrout's niece said she had heard Susan make threats to kill her husband as well.
The friend who picked up Susan Armantrout said she had been told that the one bullet she kept in the pistol was for killing her husband. The deputy reported that during the interview with Susan Armantrout, she said she only had one bullet in her gun when she shot her husband in the head.
The investigation led to the arrest and charges being filed on two additional suspects implicated in the murder.
His stepson Anthony Skaggs, of Ste. Genevieve County, was charged with felony abandonment of a corpse and felony tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution.
As part of a plea agreement Friday, Skaggs also withdrew his previous plea of not guilty, pleading guilty to the one count of tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution. He was sentenced to serve 254 days in the Ste. Genevieve County Jail, receiving credit for time served
Angel Senter of Park Hills, was also charged with felony abandonment of a corpse and felony tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution. Senter had been out on bond but the court revoked her bond on Aug. 13, and she was taken into custody after a warrant was issued and served. Bond was set at $75,000, cash or surety.
The case against Senter is still pending and a plea hearing is scheduled for Nov. 17, according to court records.
Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com
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