Two Dead in South City: After a Fatal Ambush, a Police Shooting and Fight for a Baby's Future

Two Dead in South City: After a Fatal Ambush, a Police Shooting and Fight for a Baby's Future

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click to enlarge Peggy Cobb visits the grave of her son, James Cobb Jr., for the first time since his funeral. - PHOTO BY DOYLE MURPHY
PHOTO BY DOYLE MURPHY
Peggy Cobb visits the grave of her son, James Cobb Jr., for the first time since his funeral.

It's January before doctors are able to cut the bullet from Peggy's leg. She is finally cleared to remove the orthopedic boot in early spring, allowing her to drive again. The renewed freedom inspires her to visit James' grave for the first time since the funeral.

Julian agrees to go with her one warm March afternoon if she'll wait until he's finished swapping out the speakers on his brother's Cadillac. He's spent countless hours tinkering with the sound system, replacing the headlights, installing a backup camera and adding a touch-screen video display to the dash. This may be where he is closest to his older brother. Their father isn't into cars, so it was James who taught Julian how to wire in the amps and hook up the speakers for maximum thumping.

click to enlarge Julian Cobb had his brother's name tattooed across his forearm after the murders. - PHOTO BY DOYLE MURPHY
PHOTO BY DOYLE MURPHY
Julian Cobb had his brother's name tattooed across his forearm after the murders.

Three hours after they were supposed to leave for the cemetery, Peggy is still sitting on an outdoor swing, begging him to hurry up.

"C'mon, Julian," she pleads.

"Five minutes," he says.

Thirty minutes later, they caravan down Telegraph Road and turn into Trinity Cemetery. A mist of rain falls as Peggy and Julian work a wooden cross and a solar-powered angel into the ground at the head of James' grave. Julian pours out a few sips from a 25-ounce Bud Light for his brother before eventually returning to his car. Peggy has saved the final cigarette from a pack she bought the day of the killings, and she smokes it as the rain soaks her hair. "I can't believe James is down there," she says.

Now that she can drive again and walk a little better, Peggy promises to visit more often. She thinks he would like the wooded setting and wildlife. Four or five geese waddle across the grass. She has heard that deer pass through some days.

One of her best memories of her dead son is from a float trip during the last summer of his life. Jamie and Julian aren't outdoorsmen, so Peggy and James went alone to the Bass River Resort in the Mark Twain National Forest. They didn't take many trips together anymore. James had grown up. He had a job now and a son, and all the fighting with Roberts was almost more frustration than he could stand some days.

But in the warm August air, he was like a little kid learning to fish in Carondelet Park again. He splashed along the creek bed and caught turtles that he held up to show his mother.

"I would love to quit my job and do this every day," James told Peggy in the quiet shade of the forest. "Just float and catch turtles."

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