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Rev. Raymond Trimble

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A Fairview Heights man was discovered dead Saturday in his home in the 9000 block of Crest Drive. Police are treating the death as suspicious.

Police think the Rev. Raymond Trimble, a retired minister who lived alone, had been dead for several days. He was 67.

A person of interest was in custody Sunday night.

The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis is handling the investigation.

The Rev. Randy Loeschen, pastor of Sterling Baptist Church in Fairview Heights, said members became concerned when Trimble did not show up for a church breakfast on Saturday morning. Loeschen said he called police and asked them to check Trimble's home.

Loeschen said Fairview Heights police initially told him a neighbor had said Trimble had gone to visit his brother in California. But he learned Trimble was dead when police called again at 11:30 p.m. and asked him to come to the station and make a statement, Loeschen said.

Granite City police Maj. Jeff Connor said the condition of the crime scene led police to categorize Trimble's death as suspicious, but Connor declined to give specifics.

Connor said police evacuated a few residents from surrounding homes for about an hour "as a precautionary measure" while they searched for a person they wanted to question.

The results of the autopsy were not available from the St. Clair County coroner's office Sunday.

At the Sunday evening service at Sterling Baptist Church members recalled Trimble as a quiet man who was dedicated to the church and his faith.

"He was a very gentle, sweet, sweet man and everybody loved him," said Ronald Hamilton, 65, of Fairview Heights.

Hamilton, who had known Trimble for 20 years, said he could not believe foul play may have been involved in Trimble's death, "especially since he was somebody who would do anything for anybody; and there's no reason for anybody to do anything to hurt him."

For 20 years Trimble was the pastor at Canteen Church in Fairmont City. After his retirement, he returned to Sterling Baptist Church, where he had been raised.

Trimble taught Sunday school, led the men's group, ministered to shut-ins and filled in on Sundays when Loeschen was ill or went on vacation.

"We just pray that justice be done and they do find a person responsible," Loeschen told the congregation. "It's up to us to find a way to honor his life ... we want to celebrate his life and his contributions."

Trimble's wife, Janet Trimble, died two years ago. Funeral arrangements for Trimble are pending.

Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Sept. 10, 2007
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