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Chris Coleman Charged With Strangling Wife, Two Kids

(AP Photo/Belleville News-Democrat)
Chris Coleman at the Columbia Police Department after his arrested the night May 19, 2009. He has been charged with strangling to death his wife and two sons.

COLUMBIA, Ill.(CBS/AP) Chris Coleman, 32, was arrested last night and is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He is accused of using a ligature to kill his wife Sheri Coleman, 31, and her two sons, Garett, 11, and 9-year-old Gavin, earlier this month, and is expected to plead not guilty to the charges in a court hearing later today.

Their bodies were found May 5 at the family's home in Columbia, just south of St. Louis.

Coleman, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit with his arms shackled to his waist, refused to answer reporters' questions as police escorted him Tuesday night. He was being held without bond.

Defense attorney William Margulis said his client planned to plead not guilty at a Wednesday morning court appearance.

Police had presented evidence in the case last week to Monroe County State's Attorney Kris Reitz, but Reitz did not file charges pending the results of forensic tests.

"For several days now we have been close," said Jeff Connor of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis. "Tonight there was just some more evidence that came forward and we were able to (show) a more solid case."

Details on a possible motive were not discussed by prosecutors or police on Tuesday.

The day the bodies were found Chris Coleman called police from a gym and asked a Columbia police officer who had investigated prior threats related to the family for a well-being check around 7 a.m., investigators have said.

Chris Coleman told officials that he called the house and no one answered.

Officials have declined to discuss details about the alleged threats. Some neighbors in the well-kept subdivision have also said the Coleman's received threatening letters and that their mailbox was tampered with.

Police got to the suburban home that morning before the husband arrived and discovered the bodies. Shortly after, officers had to restrain the visibly upset man in his yard.

A glove found along a local Illinois interstate may have been a key clue to the case. Law enforcement said the glove appeared to have stains from red spray paint. It has been reportedthat a similar paint color was used by the killer to scrawl a message on a wall in the Coleman home. The glove is now being tested for fingerprints and DNA.

Chris Coleman worked security for Joyce Meyer Ministries, a Fenton, Mo.-based evangelical Christian group. Joyce Meyer spokesman Roby Walker said last week that Coleman resigned after an internal inquiry found he failed to follow a ministry policy.

Walker would not say what policy Coleman allegedly violated.

Reports surfaced about a potential affair between and a onetime strip club hostess in Florida. Police investigators have traveled to Florida to talk to a woman who was a friend of Sheri Coleman's since at least high school. Coleman's lawyers have declined to comment on whether he had a girlfriend. Sheri Coleman's relatives have said they were unaware of an affair.

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