“As Missouri’s Attorney General, one of my most solemn duties is to tackle the violent crime issue in Missouri. While getting the current violent crime issue under control is incredibly important, it’s also crucial that we do not neglect or forsake the often forgotten victims of violent crime whose cases have not been solved or have gone cold. The passage of time does not, in any way, diminish the importance of certain cases,” said Attorney General Schmitt
. “I’m proud to yet again announce that a cold case has been solved and charged by my Office’s Cold Case Unit with the help of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. We will continue to fight for the families and loved ones of victims of violent crime who have little hope, who have waited long years and sometimes decades for justice to finally be served.”
According to the probable cause statement, which can be found here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/pc-statement---alice-p-weiss.pdf?sfvrsn=89da7813_2
, James Summers was found in his driveway deceased by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies just past 8 pm on April 27, 2004, with clear trauma to his facial area. Upon further investigation, a .22 caliber handgun was found in between Summers’ body and the house, and deputies realized that Summers had been shot in the back and in the face.
Summers’ girlfriend, Alice Weiss was questioned by deputies, and told them that the .22 caliber handgun had belonged to her and had been stored in a bedroom closet unloaded. According to Weiss, Summers had left to pick up his daughter from a gymnastics class while Weiss went to go shower in the master bathroom. Weiss claims to have heard the gunshots from the bathroom and went to investigate.
According to the probable cause statement, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies noticed several inconsistencies in Weiss’s statements and story. Following her initial statement, deputies performed a gunshot residue swab on Weiss’s hands, while Weiss attempted to stall and use the restroom. When deputies would not allow Weiss to use the restroom, she changed her story and stated that she fired the handgun earlier in the day, apparently for the first time in 20 years. There were materials on the left sleeve of the robe Weiss was wearing the night of the murder that are consistent with gunshot residue, although Weiss stated she was not wearing the robe when she apparently shot the handgun earlier in the day.
Weiss’s father, who was suffering from late-stage dementia, was the only other person in the house and could not provide a coherent statement or recounting of events.
Weiss also gave differing statements and stories about the storage and previous firing of the gun.
Detectives recreated Weiss’s account of hearing gunshots from the shower and knowing definitively that they were gunshots by placing an audio recording device in the shower and firing the handgun. The detectives concluded that the sounds were barely audible and that it would be incredibly hard to recognize the sounds of gunfire unless you knew exactly what to listen to.
Neighbors did not see anyone from outside the neighborhood around the time and area of the murder.
The probable cause statement also relies on the testimony of Weiss’s cousin, who said that on the ride home from the Sheriff’s Office the day after the murder that Weiss stated that she “fucked up” in messing up her story with the deputies. Additionally, the cousin shared that he and Weiss went shopping at a Wal-Mart in 2008 where Weiss shared that even if she was charged in Summers’ murder, she could say her father shot Summers because he was dead and could avoid prosecution, and that Weiss compared Summers to her hated older brother.
The probable cause statement lastly notes that a 15 year investigation has produced no other credible suspects.
All persons charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty.
The Cold Case Unit was launched by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in December of 2020. The Unit’s first case entailed charges in a 35-year-old murder in Washington, Missouri. The Cold Case Unit will continually work with prosecutors, law enforcement, and other stakeholders across the state to investigate, and potentially charge, cold case homicides.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has continually led the way in the fight against violent crime in Missouri’s major cities. In addition to the Cold Case Unit, Attorney General Schmitt’s Safer Streets Initiative has led to nearly 600 charges against over 200 defendants across the state. Additionally, the Attorney General’s Special Prosecution Unit aids in complex violent crime cases across the state on a regular basis.