From the Southeast Missourian of October 31, 2008
Cape Girardeau woman shoots, kills would-be rapist at her home
A Cape Girardeau woman shot and fatally wounded Ronnie W. Preyer, 47, a registered sex offender who had broken into her home early this morning with the intention of raping her a second time, Cape Girardeau Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said today.
Swingle said he will not be charging the victim, an older woman who positively identified Preyer this morning as the man who raped her on Saturday.
"It is clear that under Missouri's self-defense law the woman was justified in using deadly force upon the intruder in her home because he was in the process of burglarizing her home when she shot him," Swingle wrote in a letter to police chief Carl Kinnison.
Cape Girardeau police had been keeping a close eye on the woman's home, in the southwest part of Cape Girardeau, since she reported the rape nearly a week ago.
In that instance, she'd heard the glass break in a basement window around midnight on Saturday, and decided to make a run for it through her front door, according to police reports of the incident. When she opened the door, Preyer attacked her.
He punched her in the face and forced her into the bedroom, where he raped her.
She reported the rape that night, and described her rapist.
Police were actively working the unsolved rape case, Swingle said, and had been frequently driving past the woman's home in case her attacker returned.
This morning, the woman called 911 after hearing a car door close near her residence. An officer responded, checked the doors and windows, including the one that had been broken during the first attack.
Her landlord had recently repaired the window for her, Swingle said.
Once the officer determined that no one had entered the home, he left.
About two hours later, the woman was at home watching television, when Preyer broke the same basement window and came in, getting the still-wet calking on his clothing as he did so, police reports said.
He found a main fuse panel in the basement and shut off the electricity. The victim immediately tried to call 911, but the phone would not work because there was no electric.
Having recently purchased a shotgun, she grabbed the weapon and when Preyer began banging on the basement door, she was ready for him. When he crashed through the basement door into her kitchen, she shot him once in the chest and ran, heading for a neighbor's house, where she called the police.
It only took officers 45 seconds to respond to the 911 call, Swingle said.
When they arrived, they saw Preyer stumbling away from the home, and an officer ordered him to stop. When he didn't, a female officer drew her own weapon and they forced him to the ground.
He was transported to Saint Francis Medical Center where he died several hours later.
Early Friday morning, the victim identified Preyer out of a photo line-up as both the man who raped her on Saturday and the man who broke into her house today.
Preyer's criminal history is speckled with home invasions and assaults, and he has been convicted of failing to inform the county of his change of address in compliance with registered sex offender laws. Swingle was getting ready to charge him with rape, attempted rape, burglary and attempted burglary this morning, armed with the positive eyewitness identification, when he learned around 9:30 a.m. that Preyer was dead.
Preyer was convicted in 1989 of raping and robbing a woman in New Madrid County and he served 15 years in prison on both charges.
He was also arrested last December and charged with attempted rape and second degree felony assault, but Swingle's office dismissed the charges because he did not think he could get a conviction, he said.
The victim in that case, a woman in her early 30s, allegedly went for a drive with Preyer, knowing of his sex offender status, and he attacked her while in the car.
After talking with the victim in that case, Swingle decided to dismiss the charges because the woman did not use a nearby phone to call for help, and because she went with Preyer because she was "bored," even though he was a sex offender, he said.
"We know in at least one case, he did a good job of picking his victim, this time, he didn't do such a good job," Swingle said.