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Home / Featured / Transient former student charged in stabbing death of prominent Edwardsville asbestos lawyer

Transient former student charged in stabbing death of prominent Edwardsville asbestos lawyer

Police charged a former pharmacy Monday in the stabbing death of attorney Randy Gori, who was found dead  two days earlier in his home on Mooney Creek Road in rural Edwardsville, Illinois.

Timothy Michael Banowetz, 28, of Wentzville, Missouri, faces three counts of first-degree murder in connection to Gori’s death, three counts of armed robbery, one count of aggravated offence relating to vehicles and two counts of aggravated unlawful restraint.

Timothy Michael Banowetz

Banowetz. Photo from Madison County (Ill.) Sheriff’s Office

In a news conference on Monday, Madison County Sheriff’s Office Capt. David Vucich said Banowetz broke into Gori’s residence Saturday evening, according to investigators.

While there, Banowetz stabbed Gori to death, unlawfully restrained a child in the home and stole a 2020 Rolls Royce Cullinan SUV and a cell phone before fleeing, according to charging documents filed in the investigation.

More than 25 investigators from the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis worked on the case and found the car and a strong person of interest by Sunday morning, according to Vucich.

Vucich said it appeared the stabbing was premeditated and that Banowetz acted alone. He is in police custody.

Charging documents indicate two children were in the house during the attack. Vucich said Gori’s actions during the attack most likely saved the lives of the other people in the house, whose identities were not released.

“In my 22 years career as a law enforcement official, I seen a lot of gruesome cases but this one elevates to the top of heinous and senseless crimes,” Vucich said in a press conference.

Police say Banowetz appears to have lived a nomadic and transient life.

“At this point in the investigation, and I want to impress that it is nowhere over, we are unable to establish a direct connection to the victim and the defendant. The defendant appears to be mostly established in the St. Louis, Missouri, area and its respective outlying suburbs,” Vucich said.

The St. Louis College of Pharmacy confirmed on its Facebook page that Banowetz was a student in good standing there during the fall 2019 semester.  It deferred to the Major Case Squad for the release of additional information.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Gori’s family and loved ones as they grapple with this indescribable loss, and we offer them our deepest condolences,” the school’s post read in part.

On Sunday morning his firm posted a message on Facebook.

“It is with an incredibly heavy heart that we communicate the passing of our managing partner and co-founder, Randy Gori,” the post stated. “Randy was a true leader, a wonderful attorney and friend and a champion of our community. He gave so much to everyone he knew both personally and professionally. We will continue the legacy that Randy created and ask the community to join with us in supporting his family during this difficult time.”

The firm declined to comment further.

Gori’s law firm specializes in asbestos litigation nationwide and was just featured in Missouri Lawyers Media after two of his firm’s lawyers obtained an $8.4 million verdict in Bennett v. Ford Motor Company. The St. Louis jury awarded actual and punitive damages for a mesothelioma victim who was still alive at the time of trial.

The Edwardsville attorney was also one of two plaintiffs in one of the biggest verdicts of 2013. He and his then-law partner Berry Julian were defrauded in a three-year investment scheme. A Polk County jury ordered that Eric Schmickle pay the two $30 million in punitive damages.

Gori, 47, graduated from Saint Louis University School of Law in 1998. He was licensed to practice law in Missouri and Illinois, among several other locations, according to his firm’s website.

Last month, Gori made an undisclosed donation that will go toward building the 40,000-square-foot, 1,000-seat Gori Family Ice Complex. The rink will include an NHL ice rink, 1/10-of-a-mile elevated indoor track, 3,500-square-foot fitness area and 217 parking spaces to accommodate visitors. The project is part of Edwardsville’s “A Better Place to Play” campaign.

“It has long been my mission to give back to the community so when the opportunity presented itself to support this project, I felt it was a great way to give back to all sectors of our community and the local business base,” Gori said in his firm’s press release about the project.

Police are asking anyone with information about Gori’s death to call either the Major Case Squad at 618-296-5544 or the Madison County Sheriff’s Office at 618-692-4433.