Cash-strapped student charged in Illinois lawyer's death

Cash-strapped student charged in Illinois lawyer's death

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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A cash-strapped pharmacy student was charged in the stabbing death of a prominent Illinois attorney whose firm touts more than $3 billion in compensation for clients.

Timothy Michael Banowetz, 28, is accused of fatally stabbing Randy Gori and holding two children captive Saturday night at Gori’s home in Edwardsville, Illinois, a city across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Gori, 47, had two children, but authorities have not said if they were the minors who were held captive.

Police believe Banowetz acted alone. Investigators would not comment on any motive, but the crime also included the theft of Gori's 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV, along with cash and the children's cellphones.

Gori had a passion for collecting vehicles, especially Ferraris. He owned 20 Ferraris and served as vice president of a local chapter of the Ferrari Club of America, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Banowetz, who was enrolled in the fall at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, was in jail without bond on charges of first-degree murder and nine other counts. Online court records Wednesday didn't indicate whether he has a lawyer who could comment on the allegations.

Gori’s actions during the attack, and an interruption of the crime by a woman, likely saved the children's lives, said Madison County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Dave Vucich, who declined to elaborate.

“In my 22-year career as a law enforcement official, I’ve seen a lot of gruesome cases,” Vucich said Monday. “But this one elevates to the top of heinous and senseless crimes.”

Police said Banowetz often moved around but stayed in the St. Louis area. Court records show he was evicted in December from his St. Louis apartment. Police found him Sunday in a wooded area near Gori's home, with the stolen SUV nearby.

Gori's law firm specializes in asbestos litigation nationwide, with offices in Edwardsville, St. Louis, New Orleans, Washington, Los Angeles, New York and Orlando, Florida. Gori also founded a real estate and property management company.

Gori was also known for large charitable donations, including a recent $2.5 million pledge to the city of Edwardsville to help build an ice rink.

Banowetz previously attended the College of the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri, from 2010 through 2014, a college spokesman said Tuesday.

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