Convicted burglar charged with killing ex who taught self-defense classes, gun safety

crime, domestic violence, illinois, murder, shootings

Robert J. Tarr is accused of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Leslie J. Reeves. Montgomery County

An Illinois man has been charged with killing his ex-girlfriend — a popular businesswoman who taught self-defense classes to domestic violence victims.

Robert J. Tarr, 48, is accused of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Leslie J. Reeves, 45, of Troy, who was gunned down last week while on a date at a home in Farmersville, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Reeves was found dead on Thanksgiving, according to Montgomery County State’s Attorney Andrew Affrunti. Christopher J. Smith, a 48-year-old man who lived at the home, was also shot, but survived and was listed in critical condition, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Tarr remains jailed on $3 million bail following his arraignment Tuesday afternoon on first-degree murder and attempted murder charges. He was arrested at his Collinsville home Friday after cops got a warrant to search his property, Affrunti said in a statement obtained by The Post.

Investigators found Reeves and Smith at his Farmersville home on Thanksgiving, although detectives believe the pair were shot the night before during their date, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Affrunti told the newspaper cops went to the residence for a “wellness check” after friends couldn’t reach the pair and Smith didn’t show up at a Thanksgiving lunch.

crime, domestic violence, illinois, murder, shootings

Reeves worked as a self-defense instructor.

Courtesy of TMSM Chamber of Comm

Reeves was found lifeless at the home, while Smith was so badly wounded that he was unable to call for help, Affrunti said.

It remained unclear how Tarr allegedly entered Smith’s home before killing Reeves, who ran All You Studio & Party Place in Troy and worked as a self-defense instructor. She also sponsored a course called “Girls With Guns,” designed to teach women firearms fundamentals, the Post-Dispatch reported.

“The tragedy to this situation is that she lost her life in the same way that she protected others,” Dawn Mushill, executive director of the Troy/Maryville/St. Jacob/Marine Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement on its website.

Reeves is survived by two children who “were her life,” Mushill said.

The late businesswoman was the “epitome of wanting to give back, especially to empower women,” Mushill told the Post-Dispatch, adding that some of Reeves’ friends knew she had concerns with her ex.

“He was stalking her, obviously,” Mushill told the newspaper.

Tarr was previously convicted of burglary in 1992 in Madison County. Affrunti told the Post-Dispatch Reeves did not have a restraining order against him, but sought an order of protection against another man accused of stalking her in 2019.

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