EDITOR'S NOTE: Niemet's current address is in Fulton, not Cole County. Niemet's and Jones' ages have also been corrected.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
A Fulton man arrested decades ago on murder allegations as a teen now faces charges in the 1991 killing of his Russellville classmate.
Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Locke Thompson, with Sheriff John Wheeler at his side, announced Thursday that he filed a first-degree murder charge against William "Chris" Niemet for the death of 14-year-old Greg Jones in 1991. Niemet was being held in the Cole County Jail. Bond had not been set Thursday afternoon.
Thompson during the news conference at the sheriff's department reminded reporters that Niemet is presumed innocent.
"There are going to be some things that you may have questions about that I can't really answer," Thompson said. "Specifically I will not be able to go into anything necessarily about any of the evidence we might be hearing in this case going forward."
Authorities found Jones' body off Route D and Stringtown Road in June 1991, two months after he was reported missing. Jones was killed by two bullet wounds to the head.
Thompson cited advancements in forensic science in securing the charges.
Wheeler said investigators are still following up on several leads in the case. He said he would not talk about specific evidence, citing a desire not to jeopardize the case.
"I will tell you this has been an ongoing investigation for us for about seven months," Wheeler said.
Niemet, 43, was 14 at the time of Jones' death and had to be certified as an adult before charges could be filed, Thompson said. That certification came Wednesday and charges were filed the same day, he said.
Thompson said it's likely that Niemet would have been certified as an adult at the time of the murder if he had been named a suspect.
Thompson encouraged anyone with information about the case to come forward. He said Jones' family has met with officials but has not made any public comment about the arrest.
The Cole County sheriff's and prosecutor's offices announced Niemet's arrest Friday, but it was not the first time he was detained for a homicide.
Court documents show the Cole County Sheriff's Department arrested Niemet in 1991, six days after they found Jones' body.
While the documents do not say what exactly Niemet was charged with in the juvenile court, the prosecutor eventually dropped the case, and Niemet filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the county and then-sheriff John Hemeyer in 1997.
The lawsuit claimed the sheriff used "false information" to imprison Niemet in order to "'sweat out' a murder confession."
The court dismissed the case, saying Niemet had not provided any proof showing Hemeyer fabricated evidence against him.
Thompson said Thursday that police investigated Niemet in 1991 but he stopped short of saying Niemet was a suspect at that time.
Niemet was tied to another suspicious death later in Fulton when he and another man sold a home to a woman who was shot to death the next year. A lawsuit filed over insurance payouts in connection with the death said Niemet was a person of interest in the woman's killing.
Watch ABC 17 News at 5, 6 and 10 for more on this developing story.