Trucker Beaten To Death in Road Rage Incident, Suspect Still At-Large
O’Fallon, MO – A 68-year-old Missouri trucker was beaten to death in what police are calling a road rage incident over the weekend.
The family of Ron Lawson, of Winfield, MO, said he passed away on Sunday following an altercation along westbound Highway 40/Interstate 64 in O’Fallon, MO, just west of Route K.
Lawson was off-duty and operating his personal vehicle — a dark blue Ford F150 — at the time of the incident.
According to the Missouri Highway Patrol (MHP), officers responded to a report of a fight on the interstate around 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
When officials arrived, they discovered the 68-year-old man unconscious and in critical condition inside his pickup truck.
Witnesses told investigators a man assaulted Lawson on the side of the road before getting into a black Dodge pickup truck pulling a trailer and fleeing the scene.
Lawson was transported to a nearby hospital but later died due to blunt force trauma to the head.
Witnesses revealed the black Dodge was parked behind Lawson’s Ford in the westbound lanes at the time of the assault.
A probable cause statement issued by authorities indicates the suspect “ran towards the victim and punched him in the face.”
Lawson then fell onto the ground in the right lane of the interstate before being punched “at least one additional time,” investigators said.
Lawson was then placed back into his truck by the suspect.
According to Lawson’s family, he was a long-time trucker and “was always safe on the road.”
Following Lawson’s death, MHP asked for the public’s help in locating the suspect, said to be traveling in a 2019 or 2020 black Dodge Ram diesel truck with a white car trailer.
An unidentified person subsequently reached out to MHP with dash cam footage of the altercation and the Dodge involved, which authorities then distributed to the public in hopes of identifying the person responsible for Lawson’s death.
Upon seeing the photos released by MHP, the employer of Joshua David O’Keefe, 39, of Troy, MO, contacted law enforcement, “saying they recognized the white trailer the man was pulling with his truck.”
The employer, who was not identified, said O’Keefe sometimes took the trailer without permission, local outlet KMOV4 reported.
Additionally, the employer stated that O’Keefe called in sick to work on Monday, which was “unusual.”
Investigators said they received multiple other tips, which led them to positively identifying O’Keefe as the suspect.
KMOV4 reported police later located O’Keefe’s wife driving the black Dodge involved in the deadly assault.
She allegedly told police she did not know her husband’s whereabouts and refused to answer questions without a lawyer present.
As of publishing, O’Keefe is still at-large.
A warrant for O’Keefe’s arrest was issued on Tuesday by the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for first-degree assault and second-degree murder.
O’Keefe has a criminal record spanning at least 20 years and was called a “one-man crime spree” by a former Circuit Judge following a 2009 conviction for robbery.
A probable cause statement noted he “has a criminal history with several assaults.”
He is currently on probation for an assault charge stemming from an incident in July.
“I want answers, I want some kind of answers. If this person is a man, he’ll come forward and he will be brought to justice so my father can have justice,” Lawson’s son, Jason, told KMOV4.
Authorities have not revealed what is believed to have precipitated the savage attack.
Lawson leaves behind three children, seven grandchildren, and his elderly mother.
In addition to being a trucker, Jason said his father was a former volunteer firefighter.
A GoFundMe was set up for Lawson’s funeral expenses.
If you know O’Keefe’s whereabouts, you are asked to call MHP at (636) 300-2800.