August 1, 2005 -- Posted at 8:32 p.m. CDT
FISK, MO -- 19-year-old Brandon McGill of Fisk appeared before a judge Monday afternoon in Butler County in connection with the deaths of 39-year-old Terry Yates and his 10-year-old daughter Emily. Their bodies were discovered in the charred remains of their home in Fisk, just outside of Poplar Bluff.
A coroner's examination revealed that both Terry and Emily Yates had been shot before their home burned to the ground. Emily Yates was still alive when the fire was lit...the coroner reports that she died from smoke inhalation.
“It's one of the most heinous murders I've seen or even heard of during my life in Butler County,” said Sheriff Mark Dobbs, “He (McGill) told us basically in a video taped interview that he killed Mr. Yates over an argument over what Mr. Yates felt was him driving too fast past his residence. The little girl was eventually killed, because she was an eyewitness to what had happened, and they felt like they didn't need a witness hanging around.”
Unconfirmed rumors suggest that Emily Yates had been sexually assaulted before she was killed, but Sheriff Mark Dobbs would not comment on the issue. Another suspect, Jeremy Conover was found dead Saturday of an apparent suicide.
“An investigation of the scene revealed that Jeremy Conover was holding what we believed to be the weapons used at the Yates' homicide,” said Dobbs.
Mary Ezernack's son was Emily's classmate, and she says he's taking the news hard.
“He said to me the other day, he said, ‘you know mom, it's just really hard to believe that something like that could happen to somebody.’ It makes me sad, because it is true. Something like that should not be happening, especially to an innocent child, and I hope justice is served,” said Ezernack.
Emily Yates was mostly an “A” student at Fisk Elementary and would have been going into the fifth grade this fall. Neighbors say the father and daughter were very close.
“They never bothered nobody; they were good people. It was just bad that happened,” said neighbor Holly Shomaker.
McGill was appointed council in Monday’s proceedings and will be back in court August 15th. He has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
A memorial fund has been established for the Yates Family. The Twin Rivers Class of 1983 and the Twin Rivers-Fisk fifth grade class have set up the Terry and Emily Yates Memorial Library fund.
Donations can be made to:
The Twin Rivers R-10 School District
C/O Terry & Emily Yates Memorial Library Fund
P.O. Box 146 Broseley, MO 63932