On July 4, 1990, in St. John, Missouri, Stacey Ann Lannert, age 18, shot and killed her father, Tom Lannert, who was asleep in the family's home. In her statement to the police, Stacey claimed that her father had sexually abused her. She was arrested, tried, and found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
The Parents of Stacey Lannert:
Tom Lannert, son of Ken and May Lannert, had an unremarkable childhood. When he got older his relationship with his parents deteriorated. Deborah Lannert was the oldest of five children. At age 11 she was sexually abused by her father. Other members of Deborah's family were also abusers or victims of incestuous sexual abuse.Tom and Deborah met when Deborah was 18 and living at home. After three months of dating they decided to get married.
The Lannert Children:
Stacey was born in 1972 and Christy was born in 1974. The Lannert home was typically middle class. The family moved around a lot until 1979, when they decided to settle in Alhambra, Illinois. Neighbors described the family as quiet people who stayed to themselves.
Childhood Sexual Abuse:
When Stacey was in the third grade her father began sexually abusing her. The abuse accelerated to sexual intercourse, usually occurring when Tom was drunk and Deborah would not allow Tom to sleep with her. Stacey was sworn to secrecy by her father and thought it was something favorite daughters did with their dads. When she was in the eighth grade she realized that what was happening was wrong and not normal and she began avoiding him but this did little but ignite Tom's anger.
Confusion, Shame and Guilt:
Throughout the years of sexual abuse Tom Lannert would become violent toward Stacey when she showed any negative reaction to performing his desired sex acts. He also began performing oral sex on her, sometimes bringing her to a point of sexual climax. This experience left Stacey with overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame and confusion and caused her to escape deep into a 'safe place' she had created inside her mind.
An Unheeded Cry for Help:
The sexual abuse that Stacey suffered did not stay a secret like Tom demanded. Her mother, cousin, her babysitter, and a psychologist suspected that she was being abused. Her mother discovered a blood streaked pair of Stacey's underwear hidden in the basement stairs that led to the television room where Tom often abused Stacey. Deborah would sometimes hear Stacey's cries from the basement but since Tom was downstairs with Stacey she figured Tom would take care of whatever caused the tears.
Deborah and Tom Divorce:
When Stacey was 13, the Lannert's divorced and Deborah left town and remarried, leaving her daughters in Tom's care. With Deborah no longer living in the home, Tom began to drink more and the abuse against Stacey escalated to multiple attacks per week. When Stacey reached her senior year in high school, she dropped out of school and moved to Guam where her mother and step-father lived, even though she did not feel welcomed there. Stacey's sister Christy, age 11, was left behind with Tom.
Desperate Calls from Christy:
Christy dropped out of school and intermittently lived with her father, mother and relatives. In the past, Christy had been physically abused by her father but not sexually assaulted. In phone conversations between the two sisters, Christy began sounding increasingly desperate for Stacey to return home. During one conversation she pleaded for Stacey to return and admitted to her that Tom had assaulted her. Feeling guilt for having left Christy behind with Tom, Stacey returned home to Missouri.
The Conspiracy Begins:
Once home, Tom began forcing himself on Stacey once again. She began to fantasize about her father being gone - dead. Over time her fantasy became an obsessive drive that lead her to try find ways to end his life. She spoke to friends about killing her father or hiring someone to do it for her and of the money she would inherit once he was dead. For her, the ultimate and only solution to a happy future for herself and her sister was money to live on and for Tom to die. She saw no other options.
On the day of the murder Stacey and Christy spent their hours at a fair then got a hotel room later that night. Worried that Tom would kill their puppy, they returned home at 4:15 a.m. to sneak the puppy out. Stacey entered the house through the basement window. In the basement was the rifle Stacey used when learning to shoot. She later confessed that it was at that point that she decided to kill her father.
Tom Lannert was asleep on the couch. Stacey leaned the rifle on a ledge, pointed it at her sleeping father, and pulled the trigger. The bullet struck Tom, and broke his collarbone. He jumped up, not knowing he was shot, and told Stacey to call 911. Stacey searched for the phone but was unable to locate it. Tom began berating her for taking so long in getting him help and Stacey began to panic. She later confessed to thinking, 'He doesn't deserve to live' and returned to find him lying back on the couch. She shot him in the head, killing him. She then left the house the same way she had entered, carrying the rifle with her.
The next day she gave the rifle to a friend to get rid of it and then she and another friend returned to her father's house with a plan to make it appear as if she had just returned and discovered his body. After cleaning out her car she called the police. During questioning her friend implicated Stacey and soon after Stacey confessed to the murder. Her dreams of Tom being out of her life forever and of inheriting his estate valued over $100,000, came to an end.
Prior to his murder, Tom Lannert had recently dissolved his consulting business, put his house up for sale, and spoke to neighbors of moving to San Francisco.