Police hunt for clues in murder of Missouri tattoo artist

Missouri police have ruled the death of a local tattoo artist whose body was found in a septic tank last week a homicide, seven months after his father reported him missing.

Authorities called the discovery of Samuel Francis’ remains, “the culmination of a seven-month missing person investigation involving federal, state and local law enforcement,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Francis, 38, of Cape Girardeau, was discovered Thursday in St. Francois County outside Bonne Terre, just south of St. Louis.


“I was hoping he was in a witness protection program or avoiding someone or just hiding out,” Gary Francis, Samuel’s father, told the paper on Friday. “You’re never ready to accept the death of your child.”

Gary Francis, a Chaffee, Mo. retired teacher and father of six adopted boys, including Samuel Francis, told the newspaper his last contact with his son was through a series of, perhaps, 20 phone calls, exchanged during a December sojourn the younger Francis was making to the northern part of the county, near Cedar Lake.

Samuel Francis, his father reportedly said, was going there with plans of doing tattoo work for a local motorcycle gang, some of whose members, he added, had had previous run-ins with his son. 

 “I said, ‘Son, do not go to meet them,” Gary Francis recalled for a Post-Dispatch reporter. “And he said, ‘I have to. If I run from them, they will kill me.”

Samuel Francis reportedly told his father -- prior to departing for Cedar Lake -- that should he disappear, he had likely been fatally shot, and went so far as to name who might be responsible for his death.  

Click for the story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.