Authorities say a man found dead during a southern Illinois house fire had been shot in the head, and that a gun was found in his ex-wife’s SUV after the vehicle plunged into a lake with a three-month-old baby inside who was soon after rescued by a hero paramedic.
The Madison County coroner released preliminary autopsy results Friday for 37-year-old Justin Campbell.
Firefighters found his body after responding to the blaze Thursday at a house where he lived with his ex-wife, 32-year-old Cristy Campbell.
The fire was reported about 15 minutes before her SUV was seen driving into a nearby lake.
The Campbells’ infant son was rescued from the submerged SUV by a paramedic, and six other children survived the house fire.
Cristy Campbell’s body was found hours later in the lake.
Coroner Steve Nonn says a gun was found in the SUV.
But he says testing can’t be done to determine whether the gun was used to shoot Justin Campbell because the bullet that struck him hasn’t been found.
The paramedic who swam into a southern Illinois lake to save a baby says he briefly questioned his decision to jump into the frigid water, but is glad he did.
Paramedic Todd Zobrist spoke at a news conference on Friday, a day after jumping into 46-degree water at Silver Lake near St. Louis and saving 3-month-old Julian Campbell.
Zobrist says he swam about 75 feet and thought a doll was floating inside the SUV, but realized he was holding a baby when he reached inside the vehicle.
Zobrist performed CPR on the roof of the SUV, then swam the infant to shore. The baby is expected to survive.
Authorities say the boy’s mother was driving the SUV that plunged into the lake Thursday morning, about 15 minutes after a fatal fire erupted at the family’s nearby home.
The mother, 32-year-old Cristy Lynn Campbell, was found dead in the lake hours later.
The coroner in Madison County, Illinois, released the information confirming Cristy Campbell to be the mother earlier Friday as investigators try to untangle the events that preceded her death.
A fire broke out at her home around 5:15am Thursday in nearby Glen Carbon, Illinois. Six children escaped, but their father, Justin Campbell, died.
About 15 minutes later, an SUV was spotted driving into Silver Lake, about 16 miles away in Highland, Illinois.
A paramedic found Campbell’s 3-month-old son in the car and saved him.
Court records showed that Cristy Campbell and Justin Campbell had a volatile relationship.
In 2005, before they were married, Justin Campbell was charged with domestic abuse for allegedly attacking Cristy Campbell, then known as Cristy Brueggemann, by slapping her in the head when she was pregnant.
He was sentenced in March 2006 to probation and fined $500.
Despite the violence they married on Nov. 3, 2006. She filed for legal separation in September 2010, but the matter was dismissed two months later.
In April 2012, Cristy Campbell obtained an emergency protection order against her husband and filed for divorce, alleging in court papers that he ‘abuses me on a weekly basis,’ including punching and choking her.
‘He has told me that I’m a no good wife,’ Campbell wrote in her application for the protection order.
The divorce was granted in February 2013.
Despite these reports, a manager at Bob Evans restaurant in Collinsville, where Justin Campbell was an employee, said the staff is distraught, and told STL today that Campbell was ‘an outstanding guy who loved his kids’.
Lakin said Glen Carbon police have answered several calls to Campbell’s home, including some ‘domestic-related situations,’ but he declined to elaborate.
‘The Glen Carbon Police Department was aware of that house,’ Lakin said.
Authorities said the children are with Illinois authorities and will be placed with relatives.