The mayor of Washington Park, Ill., a suburb of St. Louis, was found murdered in his car in the early morning hours of April 1.
According to Washington Park Detective Kim McAfee, John Thornton, 52, was shot twice in the chest at close range, the AP reported. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead at around 6 a.m.
According to various media reports, Thornton was doing his usual “patrol” of the city after leaving his job as the foreman of an overnight shift when he stopped to pick up a bystander walking along the side of the road.
Police say when the bystander got into the car, he fired two shots into Thornton’s chest. Authorities believe the suspect then got into a red Chevrolet which was a getaway car. Police officials believe Thornton was killed in a robbery attempt.
Washington Park police took two “persons of interest” into custody, but no charges were filed and the pair was released on April 2.
Washington Park is known for lurid nightlife and financial woes. The median household income is just over $21,000 according to the 2000 census, which was about half of the national average.
In July 2009, the town filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection for a second time as it claimed assets of less than $50,000 and debt of more than $1 million.
Additionally, over the past three and a half years, three former Washington Park employees have been convicted of crimes involving using the towns funding for personal use.
Thornton is survived by his wife, six children and 10 grandchildren.