Two men charged in connection with student’s death

By Gus Bode

Police continue hunt for fourth suspect

Two men have been charged and police have two men in custody in connection with the shooting death of an SIUC student following 16 months of investigation, police said at an Aug. 8 press conference.

Carbondale Police Chief R.T. Finney said four men actively participated in planning to rob 21-year-old psychology student Marcus Thomas on March 17, 2001, of drugs and money. Police called the incident a “drug rip-off gone bad.” Thomas was shot in the back during the robbery at his 300 E. College St. home and died of blood loss after running from his attackers through the housing projects on South Marion Street.


Police allege that Terron Price, 22, pulled the trigger and have charged him with two counts of first-degree murder and armed robbery in Jackson County Circuit Court. Price, of Tamms, is currently at large, and police are looking for him in the Gary, Ind., area. Finney said the FBI will join their manhunt as officials prepare to file a charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution charge against him.

Officer Dan Reed said Friday that police have received a few tips to his whereabouts but no information that has led them to an arrest. Police are currently in the process of pursing a federal warrant against Price.

The three other men are already in custody, although only Maurice DeShay Carter, 21, of Tamms, faces the charge of armed robbery for his alleged actions on the night of Thomas’ murder. Two Carbondale men, who police have yet to name, remain in federal custody on the charge of conspiracy to distribute crack-cocaine. Finney said additional charges, including first-degree murder, will be brought against these three men in the future because they were involved in planning to rob Thomas.

A phone call from the police finally provided some relief to Thomas’ mother, Dorothy.

Dorothy said she has prayed to God every day since Marcus’ death for that call, and now she feels like she can finally get on with her life.

“Their parents are going to have to deal with what their child has done,” Dorothy said. “It took what, half an hour to take my son’s life, and for what? Nothing.”

Finney said the saddest thing about the murder is that police could have made the arrests the week the crime took place had the people who were involved been cooperative. Police were able to link the four men to the shooting after friends in their circle eventually told investigators who was responsible for the shooting.


“We know people who knew about this, and they didn’t have any involvement, but they knew exactly who did,” Finney said.

Finney said roommates who lived with Thomas at 300 E. College St. didn’t help the investigation by lying to police about Thomas’ involvement with drugs. Finney said he isn’t sure of the magnitude of Thomas’ involvement in drugs but that obviously the four men who conspired to rob him thought they could make some kind of profit.

Finney said he would describe the relationship between Thomas and the four men linked to his shooting as “acquaintances, not friends.” He said police aren’t sure yet how much money or drugs the men thought they would get by robbing Thomas.

Catching Price will be the priority of detectives for the future, and Finney said he’s confident the alleged triggerman will be caught in the next week. Finney said police are focusing on searching the Gary, Ind., area. He is described as a black male, 5 feet 10 inches and 155 pounds.

The positive conclusion to a murder investigation that lasted almost a year and a half is what Finney attributes to tireless police work conducted by officers on the case.

“We always kept our ears open and we always kept this one in the forefront whenever we did any kind of drug investigation,” Finney said adding that those efforts “finally paid out.”

For Dorothy, she’ll now be able to turn the lights off at night and stop being afraid of the dark. She described the past 16 months as a time when her life kept spinning around in circles. Now that she has a name to attach to her son’s murder, she can step out of the spinning.

She said that many times she has felt like giving up on life, but she knew that others in her family felt the same way and were looking to her to see how they should act. By not breaking down, she feels she made them continue living on. The only place she has been able to turn for solace, outside of her family, is to God. She said God has kept her going. Now she hopes God will be with the man who killed her son.

“I feel sorry for the soul of the young man who pulled the trigger,” Dorothy said. “I hope God will forgive him.”

Molly Parker contributed to this report

Reporter Molly Parker can be reached at [email protected]