Stepfather Pleads Guilty of Supplying Boy Alcohol Who Drowned in Meramec

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In Clayton County, the stepfather of a 12-year-old boy has been accused of providing alcohol to minors and pleaded guilty to seven counts of second-degree child endangerment after his stepson drowned in the Meramec River.

On August 5, 2012, Todd Combs, age 43, of Affton, allegedly supplied alcohol to seven minors at a family picnic at 18800 Franklin Road, Police said.

His stepson, Christopher Marks, was last seen about 7:30 p.m. and disappeared during a group outing at Pacific Palisades Conservation Area near Eureka, swinging on a rope near the Meramec according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Authorities launched an intensive search involving search-and-rescue teams from the entire St. Louis region. Combs himself actually discovered Christopher’s body several days later near the Allenton access and about six miles east from where the boy was last seen playing on a rope swing. Combs and one of his friends had been searching on a watercraft for Christopher.

County police said they charged Combs after gathering evidence from witnesses and surveillance videos inside stores where they say Combs purchased the alcohol. According to police, Combs provided alcohol for Christopher and six other teenagers during the August 5 outing.

The charges involve seven separate victims, including Christopher, who were attending the family picnic.

Police said that they may never know how much alcohol Christopher consumed the night he drowned, because toxicology results from his body would include ethanol produced during the decomposition process. Prosecutors stopped short of pressing more serious manslaughter charges, saying they are unable to prove how much, if any, of a role alcohol played in Christopher’s death.

Todd Combs will be sentenced June 24, 2013 in St. Louis County Circuit Court on the charges, which are all misdemeanors. The plea was not pursuant to any bargain with prosecutors.

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