DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Missouri

For Immediate Release

Monday, June 8, 2015
Richard Callahan
, United States Attorney
Contact: Jan Diltz

St. Louis Man Sentenced for Role in 2001 Arson that Killed His 15 Year Old Son

St. Louis, MO - Steven Henry Kemper, 56, of Saint Louis County, was sentenced to 70 months in prison in connection with the November 16, 2001, arson of his family’s home at 6682 Champana Lane in Florissant, Missouri.  Kemper’s 15-year old son, Zachariah Andrew Kemper, was trapped in the basement and killed during the fire.  Kemper previously pled guilty to one-count of aiding and abetting the use of fire to commit mail fraud, and appeared today for sentencing before United States District Court Judge Audrey G. Fleissig.

The 2001 fire was originally the subject of state charges in which only Kemper’s wife, Sandra Bryant was charged.  During the ensuing trial, the judge declared a mistrial after ruling that certain polygraph evidence had mistakenly been shown to the jury.  The Missouri Supreme Court ultimately held that because the mistrial was declared over the defense objection, state prosecutors were barred from retrying the defendant in state court because of the United States Constitution’s “double jeopardy” provision.

This case was originally investigated by Saint Louis County Police Department.  The United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives took up the investigation after the Missouri Supreme Court decision barring the retrial by state prosecutors.  The St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office also provided significant assistance. 

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