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Convicted Murderer Allegedly Confessed To Killing Five Women Around St. Louis In The Early 1990s

Gary Muehlberg has allegedly confessed to being "The Package Killer," a serial killer believed to be behind the murders of four identified women: Brenda Pruitt, Robyn J. Mihan, Sandra Little, and Donna Reitmeyer.

By Jax Miller
5 Infamous Cold Cases of Murder

A former construction worker and already-convicted murderer has now confessed to also murdering five sex workers some three decades ago.

Gary Randall Muehlberg, 73, has been identified as a suspect in a string of homicides in the greater St. Louis area between 1990 and 1991. The long-elusive serial killer preyed on women involved in sex work and left their bodies in various containers around the area, earning him the moniker “The Package Killer.

Prosecutors from several counties announced four charges of first-degree murder against Muehlberg during a joint press conference on Monday: Brenda Pruitt, 27; Robyn J. Mihan, 18; Sandra Little, 21; and Donna Reitmeyer, 40.

Investigators are continuing to work to find and identify the possible fifth victim who Muehlberg allegedly confessed to killing.

Muehlberg, who is currently serving a life sentence at the Potosi Correctional Center for an “unrelated murder,” according to the O’Fallon Police Department, was allegedly first connected to the victims via his DNA in 2022.

A police handout of Gary Muehlberg

The understanding that a serial killer was operating in St. Louis began with the Oct. 4, 1990 discovery of the body of a woman found stuffed in a trash can on the side of a road in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights, according to police. Police suspected early on that her case was connected to the previous murders of sex workers Robyn Mihan and Sandra Little, who both worked an area of the city — alternately known as “South Side Stroll” and the "Cherokee Street Stroll” — just blocks from Pruitt’s home, according to NBC St. Louis affiliate KDSK.

Robyn Mihan’s body was found stuffed between two mattresses on March 26, 1990, in Silex —about 70 miles northwest of St. Louis. She had given birth to her second child just two weeks earlier, according to the Riverfront Times.

Sandra Little disappeared on Sept. 4, 1990 — about a month before the unidentified body was found in Maryland Heights. Her decomposing body was found about in late February 1991 in a wooden box along Interstate 70 near Wentzville, part of St. Charles County, according to the Post-Dispatch, and quickly identified using X-rays.

The body found in October 1990 was identified in March 1991 as Brenda Pruitt, who had been reported missing by family members in May 1990. She was strangled or smothered to death, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Both Mihan and Pruitt had their shirts tightly wrapped around their heads when they were discovered, and their hands had been bound.

All three victims were mothers and sex workers.

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“Despite the best efforts of investigators from all three counties, these murders remained unsolved,” according to O’Fallon authorities.

Det. Sgt. Jodi Weber of the O’Fallon Police Department decided to take a fresh look at the three cases in 2008.

“Over a period of 14 years, she organized witness statements, police reports and physical evidence,” according to police. “Det. Sgt. Weber sent evidence to crime labs in hopes of finding DNA on evidence seized at the crime scenes. She would regularly follow up with the labs to see if any discoveries had been made.”

The break authorities needed came in April 2022, when technicians from the St. Charles County Crime Lab matched crime scene DNA to Muehlberg, who was serving a life sentence for the 1993 murder of fellow construction worker Kenneth Atchison, 57.

Atchison was last seen headed to Muehlberg’s house to buy a Cadillac in February 1992, despite the fact that the two had previously argued over work-related incidents. More than a month later, investigators found Atchison’s body in a makeshift coffin inside Muehlberg's Bel-Ridge residence, according to KDSK. The victim had been beaten, shot, strangled and tortured, family members told the outlet.

Muehlberg was convicted of that murder in 1995.

Weber then paid Muehlberg two visits about the murders of of Pruitt, Mihan and Little. In the first, Muehlberg allegedly confessed to murdering all three victims.

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Following the second interview, Muehlberg allegedly sent a handwritten letter to authorities also confessing to the murder of Donna Reitmeyer and a fifth victim, who has yet to be identified.

Reitmeyer’s nude body was found in a rubber trash can on June 11, 1990 near Gasconade Street and South Broadway in St. Louis. Her body was too decomposed to determine a cause of death, according to KDSK. Her adult daughter, Juanita Zills, told the outlet that she had dinner with her mother in April 1990 during a weeklong visit to the area, but hadn't seen her after that. 

Investigators could find little about the fifth possible victim, though Muehlberg allegedly said he left her body in a metal barrel near a specific car wash, according to the NBC outlet. The son of the car wash chain's owner confirmed with investigators that his father had found a body back in 1991 at a different location, though current detectives are still looking for reports of the find or the autopsy in the hopes of identifying the victim. Muehlberg allegedly told detectives the unidentified woman was the last sex worker he killed.

KDSK reporters obtained a copy of Muehlberg’s confession from Weber.

“I sincerely hope this new info helps and aids closure to all directly or indirectly to this negative actions," Muehlberg allegedly wrote. "I am so sorry and only hope, wish and pray this in a way closure in loss of their oved ones family member, friends and can close off this terrible negative part of my past behavior [sic]”

"No matter how these victims choose to earn a living, they should not have had their lives taken in such a dark way," the alleged letter continued. “They should have had a better life, no matter the lifestyle they had, and been allowed to see family grow and enjoy a more fuller, positive life, not to have been cut so short.”

Muehlberg admitted to making “terrible mistakes” during that “negative, dark, short” period of his life. He said he acknowledged that he might not be forgiven but hoped his openness about his involvement would help bring families closure.

Muehlberg allegedly confessed to killing all of his victims at his home in Bel-Ridge, a northwest suburb of St. Louis — which was demolished sometime last year.

“The most sacred tenet of law enforcement is justice for victims and closure for their families,” said O’Fallon Police Chief Frank Mininni. “This is a tremendous accomplishment for Det. Sgt. Weber and a solemn day for the victims, who we pray may finally rest in peace.”

Muehlberg had been convicted on other charges — including a 1972 rape and kidnapping — for which he previously served time before eventually being released. Investigators told KDSK he is in kidney failure and unlikely to survive long enough to face the death penalty.