Serial Killer: Gary Muehlberg

Gary Muehlberg Source: Missouri Department of Corrections

Gary R. Muehlberg was identified as “The Package Killer” in 2022 when he was convicted of killing Robin Mihan, Donna Reitmeyer, Brenda Jean Pruitt, and Sandy Little. The murders spanned the years of 1990 to 1991 and occurred in Missouri. He also murdered Kenneth “Doc” Atchison. He is currently serving 5 life sentences.

The Chronological Order of the Victims of Gary Muehlberg

On March 26, 1990, the remains of Robin Mihan, 19, were found approximately four days after she had been murdered. She was discovered stuffed between two mattresses in an area along Highway 61 and Highway E near Silex, Missouri. Her hands and feet had been bound. The medical examiner determined that her cause of death was manual strangulation. Investigators had learned that she was a sex worker who worked on a section of road called Cherokee Street in St. Louis. They also learned that she had given birth to her second child two weeks before her death.

Robin Mihan Source: RFT
Mattresses where Robin Mihan's body was found

On June 11, 1990, the badly decomposed, nude body of Donna Reitmeyer, 40, was found in a rubber trash can on a Gasconade Street sidewalk, near South Broadway in St. Louis. The St. Louis Medical Examiner’s Office discovered signs of extreme violence, but the cause of death remained unknown due to the state of decomposition. Investigators then identified the victim as Donna Reitmeyer, who was a mother of three grown children.

On February 17, 1991, a man commuting to work had spotted a box on the shoulder of the highway and notified authorities. When investigators opened the box, they discovered a dresser inside. Upon closer inspection of the dresser, the two bottom drawers were missing and badly decomposed human remains were found in that space. The victim’s stocking cap helped to identify her. Investigators determined the victim was Sandy Little, who had been missing since September 4, 1990, five months before her discovery. She was a sex worker who worked a stretch of Cherokee Street in St. Louis. She was the mother of a 9-month-old son.

Sandy Little

On October 4, 1991, a jogger found the decomposing remains of Brenda Jean Pruitt, 27, near Page Avenue and Interstate 270 in the Maryland Heights area of St. Louis. The victim remained unidentified for several months until investigators could confirm her identity as a woman whose family had filed a missing person’s report on May 9, 1990. Her residence was on Cherokee Street, which is what tied her to that specific area.

Brenda Jean Pruitt

On February 8, 1993, Kenneth “Doc” Atchison, 57, was murdered at Gary Muehlberg’s home in the Bel-Ridge neighborhood of northern St. Louis, during a vehicle purchase deal. Atchison had been at Muehlberg’s house with $6,000 cash, intending to purchase a used Cadillac. Investigators found Atchison’s remains in a homemade coffin in Muehlberg’s basement. The autopsy determined that Atchison had been handcuffed and shot multiple times before being strangled. Muehlberg had left the area but was located six weeks later in Illinois. Prosecutors extradited him back to Missouri, where he faced first-degree murder charges in the death of Atchison.

Kenneth Atchison Source: St. Louis Disptach

The Investigation and Discovery of Gary Muehlberg

Investigators had followed every lead that tipsters submitted concerning each victim, but throughout the 1990s, the victims had never been linked. In 2008, Investigator Jodi Weber began looking at the cold cases. She learned DNA evidence had never been submitted regarding a few victims, so she concentrated her initial efforts on the evidence collected from Robyn Mihan’s and Sandy Little’s crime scenes. Weber submitted the evidence to the St. Charles County Police Crime Lab. They discovered DNA linked the deaths of the two women. It took several years before DNA technology advanced enough for a match for a suspect to be confirmed. Investigators matched the DNA evidence they discovered on a condom from the Robyn Mihan case, matched to a man named Gary Muehlberg.

The History of Gary Muehlberg

Gary Muehlberg was born on February 27, 1949, in St. Louis, Missouri and lived there for a short time as a child before his parents moved the family to Kansas. When he reached adulthood, Muehlberg married and had one child. The marriage was short-lived with her divorcing him. He was convicted of rape, kidnapping, and aggravated robbery in 1972. After serving his sentence, he studied psychology at Central Methodist University, then completed graduate school at Central Missouri State. Muehlberg married a second time and had two more children. The family moved to the St. Louis area to be closer to his wife’s family. Their marriage ended a few years later. After his second divorce was final, Muehlberg became a serial killer.

The Conviction of Gary Muehlberg

In September 1995, a jury convicted Gary Muehlberg of the first-degree murder of Kenneth Atchinson. A judge sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Muehlberg was serving his life sentence at the Potosi Correctional Center in Mineral Point, Missouri, and had been there for 28 years, when he was contacted by Sgt. Jodi Weber, from the O’Fallon Police Detective Bureau. They informed Muehlberg that his DNA matched evidence discovered in the Robyn Mihan case. Muehlberg entered a plea deal with the St. Charles County Prosecutor’s office; in exchange for taking away the death penalty, Muehlberg offered his full confession.

In a surprise detail, Muehlberg sent a letter to Weber a few days after their prison meeting, where he also confessed to murdering Donna Reitmeyer and an unnamed Jane Doe. He stated that he had picked all of his victims up at different times in the neighborhood of Cherokee Street in St. Louis, murdered them in a concrete room in his home and placed each one separately in make-shift containers or boxes. He discarded the “packages” on major roads for convenience and discovery.

Donna Reitmeyer Source: The Sun

Investigators were surprised by the additional information supplied by Muehlberg and immediately tried to identify any Jane Doe that might match the offered details. Muehlberg had stated that he didn’t know Jane Doe’s name but that he had placed her in a metal barrel with a spring lid and had left the barrel at a local self-serve car wash. Detective Weber found a lead on the son of a car wash owner. The son told Weber that years earlier, his father had been upset about discovering a body at his car wash in Pagedale, Missouri.

There was another victim in the area during the timeframe of the other victims. On May 12, 1991, the remains of Sandra Cain, 37, were found near an overpass on Interstate 44. Cause of death was undetermined but the medical examiner’s theory was that she was hit by a car or thrown over the edge of the nearby overpass. She was a sex worker and friend of Sandy Little. Little had advised Cain to never go with a particular man in a station wagon. It was theorized that he might have been suspected as a killer by Little. No definitive evidence has been introduced regarding the death of Cain, but there is a very strong suspicion that Muehlberg may have been responsible for her death as well.

On September 19, 2022, investigators officially charged Muehlberg for the deaths of Robyn Mihan, Donna Reitmeyer, Brenda Pruitt, and Sandy Little. On March 14, 2023, Gary Muehlberg, via a virtual plea hearing, confessed to murdering two of his victims: Brenda Jean Pruitt and Donna Reitmeyer.

Aftermath

As the current investigation moves forward, investigators working with the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office are trying to match the information Muehlberg provided with a possible Jane Doe victim from 1991.

Gary Muehlberg has agreed to plead guilty to his remaining victims in and in exchange, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

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