"It was a gruesome, gruesome scene," St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar said during a Saturday news conference.
"It's beyond belief," Frederick Moeckel told the Post-Dispatch of the slayings of his daughter, ex-wife and grandchildren. "The kids were very close. Only two years apart. They lost their father less than two years ago. He (Kory Kasten) was an incredible man, and Katie was an incredible daughter. Jane was a wonderful person, also."
St. Charles police officials said that they received a 911 call around 11:55 p.m. Friday about shots fired at the Kasten home. Dispatchers could hear additional gunshots over the open line.
The Post-Dispatch reported that Jane Moeckel, who had attempted to barricade herself in a downstairs bedroom with her grandchildren, placed the call for help. By the time officers got to them, she and the children were dead and her daughter was dying.
When the officers pulled up at the house three minutes later, they saw a Chevy Silverado idling in the driveway. As the got out and made their way to the home, a man, later identified as Emery, got in the vehicle and left.
Officers near the scene tried to stop the vehicle, but Emery initially would not pull over. According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by KSDK in St. Louis, he stopped the truck a few blocks away and opened fire on them.
Though his bullets struck the officers' patrol car eight times, they were not injured, police officials said. The bullets struck the car doors, which the officers were using to shield themselves.
Emery, who the Post-Dispatch reported was struck in the neck and hip by officers' return fire, ran away on foot.
Meanwhile, the officers who responded to the Kasten home found Kate Kasten alive, but mortally wounded, in an upstairs bedroom, the affidavit said. Moeckel and the children were found dead in the bedroom where they were barricaded.
Kate Kasten died a short time later at a hospital.
About 35 minutes after the shooting, a woman called 911 from about a mile from the initial crime scene to report that a man, who police have identified as Emery, tried to carjack her. After telling her, "I gotta get out of here," the man stabbed her several times in the torso and tried to take her car, KSDK reported.
Unsuccessful, he ran away. The woman is expected to recover from her injuries, the news station said.
Emery was at large for nearly seven hours before a third 911 call from a convenience store led to his capture, authorities said. The caller reported a man who was bleeding heavily from apparent gunshot wounds had gone into the store's bathroom.
That is where officers found him when they responded to the store.
Credit: Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP
Credit: Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP
The probable cause affidavit indicated that Emery, who was questioned as he lay in the hospital, asked about the welfare of the woman he stabbed and the officers at whom he’d fired his gun.
"Is the lady OK?" he asked detectives, according to KSDK. He also asked them if they were the officers he had shot at.
They told him they were not, but that they are friends with the officers in question. Emery asked if he’d struck anyone and apologized for the gunfire.
He never asked about Kasten or her family and refused to answer questions about the shooting, according to the affidavit. He told detectives where he had discarded the gun and knife he'd used in the crimes, the document said.
The motive for the slayings was unknown Monday.
Lohmar described the case as the “worst example” of domestic violence.
“Any time a human life is lost, it’s a tragic situation, and this one in particular is extremely tragic and sad,” the prosecutor said Saturday. “What can possess someone to take the life of a child is beyond me. I don’t know how anyone could do such a thing, and we may never know.”
Watch Lohmar talk about the quadruple homicide below.
Frederick Moeckel said there had been no obvious signs of trouble in his daughter’s relationship with Emery, who appeared to get along well with her and the children, who he would often help with their homework. The entire family had gotten together for a holiday dinner five days before the homicides.
"There was never an indication that something like this could happen," Moeckel told the Post-Dispatch. "The kids loved him. The big question is, 'What the heck happened?'"
Kate Kasten moved her children to St. Charles last December, the newspaper reported. Kory Kasten, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, died April 27, 2017, after a six-year battle with cancer.
Kory Kasten was fighting cancer in his lungs and bones at the time of his death. Two weeks before he died, he wrote on his Facebook page about fighting through the pain to put Zoe's training wheels on her bicycle so he could surprise her when his wife and children returned from lunch.
Two days before his death, he wrote about a blood clot being discovered in his wrist. It was not clear if the clot contributed to his death.
Family and friends were happy that Kate Kasten was in a new relationship after caring for so long for her ailing husband, the Post-Dispatch reported.
"She was by his side every moment," Kory Kasten's aunt, Diane Kasten, told the newspaper. "She had been such a good wife to him.
“The kids were our last connection to him. These were kind, happy, loving people.”
A GoFundMe page set up by Kate Kasten's co-worker described her as someone who tried to smile and be happy even as she lost the love of her life.
"Kate had a huge personality and was always smiling even in the face of adversity," William Frisella wrote on the fundraising page. "Kate told me that Kory didn't want her to be sad when he passed. He wanted her to live and love because life is too short to do anything else.
“She always did her best to do as he asked. I can only hope she knew what an unbelievable impact she had on those around her, always sharing her amazing strength with friends and loved ones.”
The Post-Dispatch said Emery, who has been married and divorced twice, does not appear to have a criminal record. He worked as a truck driver prior to his arrest.
His Facebook page, which contains multiple photos of him with Kate, Jonathan and Zoe Kasten, portrays him as a car and hockey enthusiast who once posted his support for law enforcement.
It also shows he has a fondness for guns. His most recent profile photo, dated Dec. 18, appears to show him firing a handgun at a target at a gun range.
Neighbors of the couple described for the Post-Dispatch a terrifying post-Christmas scene in which police tactical teams swarmed the area in search of Emery Saturday morning.
"They were telling people to go into interior rooms and basements," Simran Noon, a San Diego resident who was visiting her mother for the holidays, told the newspaper. "They were shining scopes and lights at our deck. They had guns pointed over here.
“It was like something out of a movie.”