Two teenage suspects allegedly murdered a 15-year-old boy after they all escaped from Great Circle’s St. James campus, according to documents filed in Phelps County circuit court.
Enoch Phillips, 18, and Cody B. Armistead, 17, are each charged with one felony count of first-degree murder. They are currently incarcerated in the Phelps County Jail.
Phillips, Armistead and the 15-year-old victim escaped from Great Circle Sept. 16, according to the case’s probable cause statement. The statement says Phillips and Armistead returned to Great Circle Thursday and told staff they didn’t know the whereabouts of the 15-year-old. However, the statement alleges Phillips and Armistead told a fellow client they’d killed the 15-year-old. That client subsequently came forward with the information.
The statement says during interviews with law enforcement Friday, both Phillips and Armistead confessed to murdering the 15-year-old by assaulting him and taking turns strangling him. Armistead is cited as leading investigators to the victim’s body, which was located in an open field in the area of the 600 block of Meramec Street in St. James.
Phelps County Coroner Andy Davis reported to Phelps County Focus Monday that an autopsy is being conducted on the victim by the Boone County Medical Examiner’s Office. Davis said the identity of the victim is not being released.
Great Circle is a behavioral health organization that operates several facilities across Missouri to provide counseling and crisis programs for children, individuals and family members. Its St. James campus offers residential community-based programs and is located on Phelps County Road 3610.
Great Circle released the following statement to Phelps County Focus on Monday:
“We are heartbroken to learn of a tragic situation involving three teenage boys who ran away from our St. James campus last week. The death of one of those boys while he was outside of our care is an unspeakable tragedy. We are cooperating with the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department and the Children’s Division of the State of Missouri as they investigate this terrible situation. We are also working to help the other children in our care and our staff deal with this devastating loss. Due to the confidential nature of our work, we ask that all further inquiries be directed to the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department.”