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

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 is being charged with the first-degree murder of Leslie J. Reeves (45), of Troy. Reeves was killed last week during a visit to Farmersville.

Reeves was found dead on Thanksgiving, according to Montgomery County State’s Attorney Andrew Affrunti. Christopher J. Smith was 48 years old and lived at the residence. He was also shot but was able to survive and was placed in critical condition, according the Post-Dispatch.

Tarr is still held on $3million bail after his Tuesday afternoon arraignment on charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder. A warrant was issued by the police to search Tarr’s Collinsville property. He was taken into custody Friday, Affrunti stated in an interview with The Post.

Reeves, Smith, and their dog were found at Smith’s Farmersville house on Thanksgiving. But, investigators suspect that Smith was shot during Smith’s date the night prior, as reported by the Post-Dispatch.

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.

Reeves worked as a self-defense instructor.
Reeves was a self defense instructor.
Courtesy of TMSM Chamber of Comm

Reeves died at home while Smith sustained so much injury that he couldn’t call for help.

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 made the following statement in a statement posted 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 in Madison County of burglary in 1992. Affrunti stated to the Post-Dispatch Reeves that he did not possess a restraining or protective order against Tarr, but requested one for protection from another man who was accused of stalking her.

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