St. Louis-area mom, 2 children killed; baby taken, but safe

This undated photo provided by the St. Louis County Police Department shows Bobby McCulley III. McCulley fatally shot his estranged wife and two of her children before fleeing with their baby, who was later found safe. McCulley fatally shot himself hours later Friday, March 5, 2021, as officers closed in on him, authorities said.(St. Louis County Police Department via AP) (Uncredited)

ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis-area man fatally shot his estranged wife and two of her children before fleeing with the couple’s baby, who was later found safe, and then killed himself hours later on Friday as officers closed in on him, authorities said.

The killings happened late Thursday in north St. Louis County, said St. Louis County police spokeswoman Tracy Panus. Police on Friday identified the victims as Roseann McCulley, 34, her 13-year-old son Kayden Johnson and her 6-year-old daughter Kaylee Brooks.

Officers responding to a report of a shooting found all three dead at the scene. Police also learned that a 1-year-old girl had been taken — the daughter of Roseann McCulley and the suspected shooter, 35-year-old Bobby McCulley III.

Court records show Bobby McCulley III filed for divorce on Feb. 28. The two slain children were not his biological children, police said

County police Lt. Col. Steve Sack said at a news conference that officers had been called to the home earlier Thursday, when a neighbor reported a suspicious person between two homes. Sack said officers didn't find anyone and left.

Police now believe that McCulley entered the home with a weapon and held the family against their will for hours before killing them and leaving with the baby. Police came back after after a neighbor reported hearing gunshots.

Police also said they had been searching for McCulley earlier Thursday after Roseann McCulley told them he abused her recently.

An Amber Alert was issued, and the baby was found safe with relatives just before 5 a.m. Friday. The Missouri State Highway Patrol tweeted that the 1-year-old was taken to a hospital as a precaution.

Meanwhile, police launched a manhunt for McCulley, who had been charged in an at-large warrant with three counts of first-degree murder. Police said officers were closing in on McCulley when he fatally shot himself in the city of St. Louis.

Authorities on Friday also announced that Michelle Clayton, 55, was charged with a felony related to the crime. A probable cause statement said Clayton “misled and lied to police to prevent the apprehension of Bobby McCulley.” A spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell confirmed that Clayton is McCulley's mother.