Family, friends split over innocence of Sievers murder suspects

ST. LOUIS – Kathy Moran avoids talking to her daughter about Wayne Wright.

She doesn’t believe her son-in-law, one of the men accused of killing Dr. Teresa Sievers, is innocent.

“I’ve learned not to bring (Wayne Wright’s) name up, because I don’t want to fight with my daughter,” she said from her Ballwin, Mo., home.

The tension led Moran’s daughter, Angela, to move out of her residence.

WINK News traveled to Missouri to learn more about Sievers’ accused killers, speaking with their family and friends to gain context behind their statements to investigators about the two men.

Sievers, 46, was found bludgeoned to death with a hammer inside the kitchen of her Bonita Springs home in June 2015. Wright, 47, the best friend of Sievers’ husband, Mark, is charged with second-degree murder. Jimmy Ray Rodgers, 25, is charged in connection with the killing. He is near the completion of a six month federal sentence for a probation violation in an unrelated gun case.

Court documents allege Mark Sievers’ involvement, but he has not been charged.

Prosecutors have released tens of thousands of pages outlining their evidence against Wright and Rodgers, and their suspicion of Mark Sievers, including search warrants, affidavits, crime scene photos, hundreds of memes from Rodgers’ Facebook account and Rodgers’ girlfriend saying in a sworn statement that he and Wright killed Teresa Sievers for insurance money.

Family, financial problems

Moran believes money may be the motivation behind Wright’s alleged involvement.

“I think money is the root of all evil,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s their evil.”

Jerry Lubinski, a strong advocate for Wright’s innocence, concedes that money would be a major factor for Wright to participate in what investigators described as a murder-for-hire.

“We all have a price,” he said from his St. Louis home. “If Wayne was involved, it’d have to be a big price.”

Detectives from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office alleged in court documents that Wright was to be paid an undisclosed amount of money from Mark Sievers for killing his wife, and then in turn, pay Rodgers $10,000 for his involvement.

The Sievers had five life insurance policies on each other totaling $4.4 million, according to the documents.

Wright and his wife both had health and marital issues, as well as problems with their children from previous relationships, Lubinski said.

One daughter was kidnapped and murdered eight years ago. Another died from pneumonia. The couple’s 16-year-old son had to be placed in mental health counseling.

“It preyed on the family,” Lubinski said. “Stress was there for them. Maybe it got the best of them.”

Lubinski described Wright, who was an assistant youth director at their church, as someone who was well-mannered, was always there for his friends and was able to work for what he needed.

“My thing is, if he was involved with it at all, number one, he would not do the murder,” he said. “Just can’t see him hitting someone 17 times with a hammer. I just cannot see that. If he’s involved, maybe it’s for the money. I know he’s short for money.”

‘The Hammer’

Lubinski believes Wright is a scapegoat and that Rodgers was the one behind Teresa Sievers’ death.

Moran remembers the moment she met Rodgers.

“He seemed too, how do I say this? Too good,” she said. “You know how somebody puts on that real, real front.”

Moran, whose granddaughter stayed with Rodgers at one point, described him as violent.

“She did say…he wasn’t nice,” she said. “I was glad she got away from him.”

Rodgers’ girlfriend, Taylor Shomaker, described him as a perfect, non-violent person who worked 16-hour days to provide for her and her children.

“I thought I completely knew him, was about to marry him,” she said.

As for Rodgers’ nickname, “The Hammer,” Shomaker said his father gave him that name as a child.

Ironically, Teresa Sievers was killed with a hammer.

In sworn statements, Shomaker disclosed conversations between her and Rodgers where he admitted to killing Teresa Sievers, told authorities how Rodgers destroyed evidence and provided details about a meeting between Rodgers and Wright after investigators executed a search warrant at Wright’s home.

Shomaker also led authorities to physical evidence believed to be connected to Teresa Sievers’ killing.

Shomaker, who spoke to a reporter by phone, described finding out about the killing as “horrible” and said life has been very difficult for her since.

She described Wright as someone “who seemed like a geek” and not someone who would kill someone.

But she used the words “mean” and “nasty” to describe Mark Sievers.

“Thinks he can do anything and get away with it,” she said.

Moran had nice words to characterize Mark Sievers, he dated her sister when they were teenagers, but her opinion was based on how she knew him then.

“He was always in nice attire. Always polite,” she said. “What you appear, and what you are are two different things.”

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