-- April 16, 2011, Statement by New York City Police Officer Michael Daragjati, boasting of his false arrest of another African-American male.
Top News Story!
Posted: May 08, 2012 | Updated: May 08, 2012 07:28 PM PDT.
Mayes of Death!
Tennessee -- Police in two states and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are hunting for Adam Mayes. Authorities believe he still holds the two youngest daughters of Jo Ann Bain, whose body was discovered along with that of her 14-year-old daughter Adrienne, behind a barn on Mayes' property.
Teresa Mayes, wife of Adam Mayes, was arrested Sunday along with his mother, Mary Mayes, officials said Tuesday. Both remain jailed at Hardeman County Jail in Tennessee. Teresa Mayes, 31, has been charged with four counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and held on a $500,000 bond, Hardeman County Circuit Court Clerk Linda Fulghum said. Mary Mayes, 65, has been charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping and held on $300,000 bond, the clerk said. The two Mayes women were arrested without incident late Sunday in Union County, Mississippi, and transported across the state line to Hardeman County, where they were booked early Monday, Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said.
"We developed information that led us to believe that they were a part of it," Edwards said. An affidavit filed with the Hardeman County Court said that Teresa Mayes told Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents that she drove the victims from Hardeman County, Tennessee, to Union County, Mississippi. Edwards said it doesn't appear either woman knows the whereabouts Adam Mayes or the two missing Bain children. Mayes was last seen in Guntown, north of Tupelo, last Tuesday, according to the FBI.
On Monday, the medical examiner in Memphis confirmed two bodies found last weekend behind Mayes' barn in Guntown, Mississippi, were those of Jo Ann Bain, 31, and her oldest daughter, Adrienne Bain, 14, the FBI said. Both Teresa and Mary Mayes told investigators they saw Adam Mayes digging in the backyard in Mississippi on April 27, the day of the disappearance. Authorities also believe at least one of the two Mayes women knew about the bodies, Edwards said. He didn't say which one.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it is believed Mayes has changed his appearance and that he may have altered the appearances of his victims, perhaps by cutting and dying their hair. Bain's other two daughters, Alexandria, 12, and Kyliyah, 8 - taken along with their mother and older sister from their home - were believed to still be with Mayes, the FBI said on Monday night. Bain's husband reported the four missing from their rural western Tennessee home April 27. Mayes, described as a friend of the family who was at their home to help them move to Arizona, was quickly identified as a suspect.
Posted: Mar 29, 2012 | Updated: Apr 2, 2012.
Teen Tourist Killer!
A man charged in the bludgeoning death and dismemberment of a 9-year-old Indiana girl is wanted in Florida for violating probation in 2000, officials said Wednesday. Michael Plumadore, 39, faces one count of murder in the death of Aliahna Lemmon (pictured above, center). He was being held without bond after a court appearance Tuesday. He was arrested Monday night after the girl's body was found. Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries told media sources, "Some of the story we heard from the beginning with him led us to believe he was the key to this case, that ... he was the one who was going to have the answers we were looking for."
Plumadore's confession came after several hours of interrogation Monday evening. "It was very factual when he started telling them what happened. And they just had to sit there and listen to him as if they were just listening to a story with no emotion, just trying to get him to say more and more and more," Fries said. "He was the one who saw her last," Fries said. "He was the one who had the most contact with her."
In a probable cause affidavit released Tuesday, Allen County, Indiana, sheriff's investigators said Plumadore (pictured left) admitted striking the girl repeatedly in the head with a brick as she stood on the front steps of his mobile home in the early hours of December 22. He told authorities he stored Aliahna's body in garbage bags in a freezer at his home until that night, when he allegedly dismembered it with a hacksaw, according to the affidavit. Plumadore allegedly told investigators he threw parts of the body in a nearby commercial trash bin but kept the head, hands and feet in his freezer, according to the document.
Florida Department of Corrections records show that Plumadore was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, firefighter or EMS worker in May 2000, and later that month he was sentenced to a year of community supervision. But he failed to report to his probation officer or attend a court-ordered anger management class the following month, said department spokeswoman Ann Howard. Details of the offense were unavailable because of the time that has passed, she said. However, Plumadore is listed in the department database as "absconder/fugitive."
Posted: Tues. December 27, 2011 10:13 AM PST - Updated:
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - A babysitter and trusted neighbor has confessed that he bludgeoned a 9-year-old Indiana girl to death with a brick then dismembered her, hiding her head, hands and feet at his home and dumping the rest of her remains nearby, police said Tuesday. Allen County sheriff's investigators said in an affidavit that 39-year-old Michael Plumadore admits he killed Aliahna Lemmon on Dec. 22. According to the affidavit, Plumadore told police that after beating Aliahna to death, he stuffed her body into trash bags and hid her in the freezer at his trailer. He said he later chopped up her body and stuffed her remains into freezer bags. Police said Plumadore told them he had hidden Aliahna's head, feet and hands at his trailer and that he had discarded her other remains at a nearby business. Police obtained a warrant to search his trailer on Monday and found the body parts. A judge ordered Plumadore held without bail or bond at an initial hearing Tuesday, sheriff's department spokesman Cpl. Jeremy Tinkel said. He has yet to be formally charged in Aliahna's death.
Mike Plumadore sits next to the chair where Aliahna Lemmon, 9, was last seen before she went missing, in this Dec. 25, 2011 photo.
Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries said Plumadore (pictured above, center) was arrested after being interviewed by detectives for several hours Monday — and was also questioned Friday and Saturday. "The story just didn't make sense to our investigators or to me when I first heard it," Fries said. "I thought this is the guy we needed to focus on. If we are going to find her, he's going to be the one who has the answers for us."
Aliahna and her two younger sisters were staying with Plumadore because their mother had been sick with the flu. "He was a trusted family friend," Aliahna's step-grandfather, David Story, told media sources late Monday, saying he was surprised by the arrest. "It did come to a horrible conclusion," Fries told media sources. "We have somebody in custody now who can pay the price for it."
Plumadore told media sources on Sunday that Aliahna (pictured left) disappeared from his home Friday morning while he was sleeping after having gone to a gas station about a mile away to buy a cigar. Authorities have said the store's surveillance video shows him there about that time. Plumadore claimed that he left the three girls in his mobile home about 6 a.m. Friday and went to a gas station about a mile away to buy a cigar. Authorities have said the store's surveillance video shows him there about that time. "I had dead-bolted the door," he said. "When I got back, all the girls was here." He said he smoked his cigar and went back to sleep, then woke up about 10 a.m. when Aliahna's mother called. After that call, he realized the door to the home was unlocked and that Aliahna was gone. He said Aliahna's 6-year-old sisters told him Aliahna had left with her mother. Plumadore said it wasn't until he talked with Aliahna's mother about 8:30 p.m. that they realized she was missing and police were notified. Souders said the miscommunication caused the delay in determining that Aliahna had vanished.
Aliahna's mother, Tarah Souders, told media sources on Sunday that her daughter had vision, hearing and emotional problems and suffered from attention deficit disorder. "She's never wandered off," she said Sunday. Aliahna and her sisters were staying with Plumadore because their mother had been sick with the flu and Aliahna's stepfather works at night and sleeps during the day.
More than 100 emergency workers searched for her Saturday around the rundown mobile home park where Aliahna and Plumadore lived and FBI agents were there Monday. Fries said Plumadore told investigators on Monday where the girl's body could be found, ending the hopes of authorities that Aliahna would be found safe. A state website shows that 15 registered sex offenders live in the park that numbers about two dozen homes. Plumadore is not on Indiana's registered sex offenders list. He has a criminal record in Florida and North Carolina that includes convictions for trespassing and assault. Elizabeth Watkins, who lives nearby, said residents are cautious and keep to themselves in part because of the number of sex offenders living in the mobile home park. "I'm numb, I'm totally numb. I don't know what to think," she said.
Posted: 12/29/2011 8:50:17 AM ET - Updated: 12/29/2011 10:04:17 AM PT
Waterville, Maine (WCJB) -- On Wednesday, Waterville police said they have wrapped up large-scale searches for missing child, Ayla Reynolds. With assistance from firefighters and residents, authorities have repeatedly probed private properties, nearby woods, open fields and waterways on foot and by air, according to the Waterville police. They have searched trash bins and drained a stream in an attempt to find the missing toddler. Police concluded that Ayla, who recently started walking, did not leave the house on her own.
The child was reported missing on Dec. 17, 2011. She was last seen by Justin DiPietro, the father of 20-month-old Ayla, in his Waterville, Maine home, when he put her to bed the previous night.
DiPietro and Trista Reynolds, 23, have not spoken once since the child’s disappearance or during the ensuing wide-scale search by local authorities. The grandfather of a missing 20-month-old Maine girl repeated over and over Wednesday night that the girl's father has not been in touch with the family, even as the father reiterated he doesn't know what happened to her. "Nothing, not a word, nothing," Ron Reynolds told media sources. "My daughter tried to talk to him. Nothing's coming back ... nothing is being said."
Posted: 9:22 PM EST, Mon December 26, 2011 - Updated: 3:59 PM PST, Wed. December 28, 2011
Waterville, Maine (WCJB) -- Authorities in Waterville, Maine, on Monday offered a $30,000 reward for information that would lead investigators to find 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds (pictured left). The young girl was last reported seen more than a week ago, and police are now confident that someone was involved in taking Ayla from her house, said Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey. Ayla is described as having blond hair, being about 2 feet, 9 inches tall, and weighing 30 pounds. She was last seen wearing green pajamas with white polka dots and the words "Daddy's Princess" across the front. When she disappeared, the girl had her arm in a soft cast. "This is the largest reward that I can remember for a missing-person case in Maine's history," he told reporters. "I'm very hopeful that this will encourage anyone that has any information to call the Waterville police."
Ayla's family is cooperating, and police do not have anyone connected to the case in custody. Authorities have conducted dozens of searches so far, involving federal and local law enforcement. Work to find the missing girl continued over the weekend with police sorting through leads, said Massey. "Like in most missing person cases, it concerns us as time goes on," the police chief said.
Posted: 5:01 PM EST, Thu December 22, 2011 - Updated: 10:46 AM PST, Tue December 27, 2011
"We have reason to believe inbreeding occurred in Aron's family."
-- December 21, 2011, Statement by a defense attorney for accused child killer/torturer Levi Aron to media sources regarding his defense for Mr. Aron's actions.
New York (WCJB) -- The lawyer for the man charged with kidnapping and killing an 8-year-old boy in Brooklyn last summer says inbreeding is partially to blame for his client's actions. In July, police found 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky's (pictured right) remains divided between a freezer in Levi Aron's (pictured left) attic apartment and a trash bin more than two miles away. The boy had asked Aron for directions after getting lost on his seven-block walk home from summer camp, police said. It was his first time making the trip alone. Kletzky died after being drugged and then smothered, New York City's chief medical examiner said after an autopsy in July.
"We have reason to believe" inbreeding occurred in Aron's family, a defense attorney told media sources Wednesday. Asked what proof of inbreeding he had, the attorney said he had "anecdotal evidence in talking to the family," but declined to elaborate. Asked how inbreeding might lead someone to murder, the attorney said he is "not a medical doctor," but believes that inbreeding "can result in certain kinds of mental defects." Aron pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in August, according to his attorney.
A status conference in the case was held Wednesday. Both sides discussed the turning over of discovery materials at the pretrial hearing, the attorney said. Schizophrenia and brain trauma also factored into Aron's actions, his attorney contended to media sources. Aron has a family history of schizophrenia, the attorney said. His sister committed suicide as a result of the mental illness, according to the attorney. And at a young age Aron suffered a brain-damaging fall from a bicycle, his attorney said. "He's virtually catatonic each and every time I have (been) called upon to deal with him," he said of his client's mental condition.
A mental evaluation of Aron in August found that he was fit to stand trial. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March. Aron's attorney declined to say whether he would raise the issue of inbreeding at trial, emphasizing that the defense team would continue to investigate that angle in the coming months. He did not specify what form that investigation would take. If convicted, Aron could face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:24am PST - Updated:
New York (WCJB) -- A 47-year-old man was arrested Sunday in the death of a 73-year-old woman who was set on fire in the elevator of her Brooklyn apartment building, telling police the woman owed him $2,000, New York police said. Jerome Isaac (pictured above, center) faces charges of first-degree and second-degree murder, along with arson, police said in a statement. Isaac told police Gillespie owed him $2,000 for work he claims he did for her, said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. He turned himself in to police overnight or early Sunday morning, he said.
A preliminary investigation showed the man was standing outside the elevator on the fifth floor and attacked the woman as she was attempting to exit, authorities said. The incident was caught on surveillance cameras inside and outside the elevator, and police have the videotapes, Browne said. Authorities believe Isaac initially sprayed the woman with a flammable liquid, presumably gasoline, and continued to spray her as he followed her back into the elevator, Browne said.
The woman was first sprayed in the face, he said. Then, using "one of those long lighters that you would use for a grill, he lit a Molotov cocktail and used the burning leg on top of that to ignite her body," Browne said. The suspect stepped out of the elevator, threw the Molotov cocktail inside, then returned again to spray more liquid on the woman as she burned, he said. Authorities responding to a 911 call of a fire found the woman's body inside the elevator. She was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the police statement.
The victim was identified as Deloris Gillespie. Isaac also lives in Brooklyn, but does not live at the address where the incident took place, police said in a statement. Isaac lived about 10 minutes away from Gillespie's apartment building, Brown said. After the incident, he apparently returned home and ignited the door to his own apartment, he said. He was concerned he had burned himself in the second incident, although no one else was injured, Browne said. He then hid out on a rooftop for a while and fell asleep, later going into a police station "reeking of gasoline" and telling officers he was responsible for a fire. During questioning, Browne said, he implicated himself in Gillespie's death. It was not clear whether Isaac had retained an attorney.
Posted: Fri. December 16, 2011 | 06:58:58 PM PST - Updated: Thurs. December 22, 2011 2:30 PM PST
Eagle Rock Fire!
"I went to grab her, not to hurt her but to talk to her."
-- Los Angeles Fire Department captain David Del Toro, 54, testifying before jurors that he did not kill Jennifer Flores at his Eagle Rock home, or later drag her dead body down the raod attached to his pick-up truck.
Los Angeles, CA -- A former Los Angeles Fire Department captain who killed a woman in his Eagle Rock home and dragged her nude body behind his truck was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison for a crime the judge called "baffling." Following a three-week trial, David Del Toro (pictured above, center) was found guilty in March of the second-degree murder of Jennifer Flores, 42, whose battered body was found dumped in the street a few blocks from the fire fighter's home in August 2006. Del Toro, 55, was a 23-year veteran of the city's fire department at the time of the murder. He had served as a drill instructor and worked at stations in Arleta, Skid Row, Lincoln Heights, Silver Lake and Hollywood.
"He's done wonderful things in his life," Judge Lance Ito said before handing down the sentence. "So it makes the events of the day in question so much more baffling. You can't have these factors come together and make any sense."
Flores, of San Gabriel, was an acquaintance whom Del Toro had allowed to stay at his home the previous night. She had been beaten so badly that her jaw, ribs and nose were broken before she was strangled. Other injuries included postmortem road rash on her back, which investigators believe occurred when Flores' body fell out of the back of Del Toro's truck and was dragged for about a mile.
"It's unfathomable how this man beat the life out of this woman, mutilated her hair ... then continued to drag her lifeless, naked body on the street as if killing her wasn't enough," said Ellen Flores, the victim's sister-in-law. "Only an evil man could have done this. Even an animal does not deserve to be so ruthlessly killed."
Del Toro had killed Flores in a drunken rage when she turned him down for sex, dumped her body and returned home to clean up the mess, according to prosecutor Bobby Grace. The firefighter had a history of alcoholism and domestic violence, and was temporarily suspended by the fire department for beating an ex-wife and ex-girlfriend, Grace said. "It was inevitable he was going to end up killing somebody," Grace said after the sentencing.
But Del Toro, who testified in his own defense, maintained that he did not kill Flores, although he admitted that his memory was spotty from the heavy drinking he had done that night. "I don't remember killing her. I don't believe I killed her," Del Toro said during testimony. "I just didn't kill her. I don't know how I would know, but I know I didn't kill her."
The Flores family had hoped for a first-degree murder conviction, which would have meant a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. With the second-degree murder conviction, Del Toro will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence - about 12 or 13 years - before being eligible for parole, according to Grace. The firefighter was also given 1,555 days credit for time served since his Nov. 2006 arrest.
Members of the Flores family, who described the five-year ordeal as "grueling," were relieved at some semblance of closure, but said they would never fully get over Jennifer Flores' death. "Her future was cut way too short," said Edward Flores, her father. "I cry for her every single day. We won't be able to hug her ... she'll never have children."
Posted: 10:02 PM EST, Thu December 8, 2011 - Updated: Tues Dec 13, 2011 10:42am PST
Canton, Georgia (WCJB) -- New details emerged in the brutal slaying of a 7-year-old Georgia girl, hours after an attorney for the suspect said his client would plead not guilty. Authorities have charged 20-year-old maintenance worker Ryan Brunn with killing Jorelys Riveria (pictured left). Seven-year-old Jorelys mouth was duct-taped, and her hands and feet were bound with plastic ties, a source close to the investigation said. Authorities have said Jorelys died of blunt force trauma to the head, was stabbed and had been sexually assaulted. Jorelys, who was last seen alive Friday near a playground at the apartment complex where Brunn worked in Canton, Georgia. They found her mangled body in a trash compactor there three days later, the source said. The warrant for Brunn's arrest charged him with murder and making false statements to law enforcement. "The accused did unlawfully and with malice aforethought cause the death of Jorelys Rivera by hitting her on the head with a blunt object," it said. Authorities have said there will likely be other charges, including kidnapping and sexual molestation.
Brunn (pictured above, center) who was arrested Wednesday, is in segregated confinement in prison and was required to wear a bullet-proof vest Thursday due to the nature of the case, said Lt. Jay Baker, a spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office. "It's been a hot issue in the community. We didn't want to take any chances," Baker told reporters. Authorities said Brunn has no known criminal history. Thursday's court appearance came after the little girl's mother called for capital punishment for the suspect. The little girl's father, Ricardo Galarza, lives in Puerto Rico. He told media sources on Thursday that he last saw his daughter two years ago when she visited for the summer. She was supposed to visit for Christmas this year, Galarza said. He echoed Rivera's call for the death penalty.
A court date for an arraignment has not been set. One of Brunn's court-appointed attorneys said his client will enter a "not guilty plea" at the appropriate time. Brunn wore an orange jumpsuit and a bullet-proof vest Thursday during his initial court appearance. His hands and feet were shackled during the hearing, which lasted only a few minutes. After Cherokee County Superior Court Judge Frank Mills read him his rights Thursday, Brunn said he understood what he was being charged with and was satisfied with his counsel. After the hearing, one defense attorney told reporters that his client was "very shaken." "We're investigating our case," he said. "It's obviously a very tragic case. It's a very serious case. We take it very seriously. Just give us time to do our jobs."
Brunn has not made a public statement, but his adopted brother has said he is innocent. His adopted brother, Connor, told media sources that the arrest was a "big mistake." "I honestly think he is innocent. There's just no way he would do something like this. He's just a kind-hearted person," Connor Brunn said. He has spoken with Ryan, he said, who told him "he wouldn't touch a girl like that." "He wouldn't ever do something like that. ... This is just all bogus. ... He knew that he was suspected but he never, like, thought that it would go to him. He was asked to help to go look for this little girl. And then he got brought into this," Connor Brunn said.
Jorelys was abducted "in the immediate vicinity" of the apartment complex's playground, then taken to an empty apartment nearby, Keenan said. "We have evidence that the murder occurred in that vacant apartment," he said. "At some point, the child's body was then disposed of in the Dumpster and compacted into trash." Neighbor Heather Johnson-Coker said residents were suspicious of Brunn after investigators found Jorelys' body in the trash compactor, which can only be operated with a key that employees at the complex have. She said the maintenance worker had mentioned the large number of vacant apartments in the complex when a boy from the area went missing for a few hours recently. "He said, and I quote, 'It would be really easy for someone to break in and do something to one of these children,'" Johnson-Coker said Wednesday. Connor Brunn said investigators should have focused on the complex's other maintenance workers, who also had access to the trash compactor, instead of his brother. "I think they were looking at him because he was one of the maintenance guys there," he said. "But he's just one out of what, four or five other maintenance guys that work there?" Brunn was one of hundreds of people whom investigators interviewed in their search for suspects, Keenan said Wednesday.
On what friends say is Ryan Brunn's Facebook page, he described himself as being "very outgoing" and having "a 'wonderful' life, family, and friends." In July, he posted a message slamming Casey Anthony, who was acquitted of killing her daughter in Florida. He wrote that Casey Anthony should have died, "but really she'll get hers."
"We're confident that Brunn is a killer," Keenan charged, but he added that the investigation will continue for months. "We are investigating all of the past history of Ryan Brunn and piecing together what he's been doing the last several years," he added. "We have sent agents to other states and also to other counties and we're going to backtrack all of his activities and make a determination if he has been involved in other crimes. He has no known criminal history to us, but we will find out."
Posted: 7:37 PM EST, Fri December 9, 2011 - Updated: 11:55 AM PST, Thurs. December 29, 2011
Weleetka, Oklahoma -- A 25-year-old Oklahoma man was charged Friday with murder in the deaths of two girls who were found about three and a half years ago, shot to death in a ditch alongside a remote country road. "We don't believe that he knew (the slain girls) directly," Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Director Stan Florence said Friday of Kevin Sweat (pictured left). "We just believe that he happened to be in the area that day."
According to a probable cause affidavit, Sweat told investigators on September 13 that he'd been driving his Chevrolet Cavalier where the girls were found when he saw "two monsters" come at him. The suspect said he "panicked," shooting the "monsters" first with a Glock .40 handgun and then with a .22 handgun he'd had in his glove box, the affidavit said. It claimed Sweat had voluntarily waived his rights and agreed to talk to investigators. The "monsters" are believed to be best friends Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, of Weleetka and Skyla Jade Whittaker, 11, of nearby Henryetta, who were discovered June 8, 2008, by Taylor's grandfather. They had been shot in the head and chest, eight times for Skyla and five for Taylor, the state medical examiner reported after an autopsy.
Their killings rattled Weleetka, a town of just over 1,000 residents, with police calling the shootings the community's first murders in more than 20 years. They also set off an extensive investigation involving multiple local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and including about 650 interviews, 900 leads and 19,000 forensic tests on 800 pieces of evidence, according to Florence.
In January 2010, Sweat was among those interviewed about the girls' murder, because he owned a Glock .40 Model 22 handgun like one of those thought to be used in the shootings. He then told an investigator then that he'd sold such a gun in 2007, according to the arrest affidavit. Sweat was not considered a suspect until this year, after being arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Ashley Taylor, Florence said. He was already in the Seminole County Jail in his girlfriend's death when the new charges were filed, according to the state investigative bureau director. He is charged on four counts related to the 2008 case: two each of first-degree murder, plus two each of shooting with intent to kill, according to the affidavit. The witnesses cited in the arrest affidavit include several of Sweat's family members, including his father, as well as the two victims' relatives and the Glock gun company.
District Attorney Max Cook, whose jurisdiction includes Creek and Okfuskee counties, said Friday that he has filed court documents requesting that Sweat be eligible for the death penalty if found guilty of murder in any of these killings. "We feel that we are in an appropriate position to go forward in this case," Cook said Friday, referring to the case of the two girls.
Neighbors and relatives described Taylor and Skyla as nearly inseparable, often playing together after school, riding their bikes and sleeping at each others' houses. They were at Taylor's house the night of June 8, when they set off about 5 p.m. for a walk down the road. Soon thereafter, Taylor's grandfather made a futile attempt to call her on her cell phone. He found the two girls about 30 minutes later, lying side-by-side in a ditch about a quarter-mile from the home, police said.
Six weeks after the murders, Oklahoma authorities released a 911 tape in which a breathless, nearly hysterical woman -- identified only as a family member of one of the victims -- is heard screaming, "Somebody killed two girls. They went for a walk, and now they are both down here dead. ... My granddaughter and her friend," the woman said on the tape. "Help me. Please!"
On September 30, a $5,000 reward was offered for information on "the Glock .40 model 22 handgun used in the Weleetka girls' homicides," the state investigation bureau noted on its website. A serial number was given for that weapon, one of two linked to the girls' deaths. Ballistics tests determined that the .40-caliber shell casings found at the crime scene, matched those found on the property of Curtis Sweat, Kevin's father, the affidavit said. Investigators determined the serial number of the gun, which had been sold to Sweat. In his September interview, the suspect admitted that he'd purchased the Glock .40 gun in 2007.
Authorities on Friday reiterated their plea for the public's help in tracking down this firearm, which they said Sweat may have tried to sell in March at a Tulsa gun show. Two photos of the suspect were also released: one taken around the time of the Weleetka killings and the other a mug shot after he was charged in his girlfriend's death. "We hope that, by releasing (those photos), it will spark someone's memory of seeing Mr. Sweat around the scene of (Taylor and Skyla's) murder," Florence said.
June 22, 2011
SACRAMENTO, CA – In what police say is an extremely rare and disturbing case, a Sacramento woman was arrested this morning for allegedly killing her 6-week-old daughter in March by placing her in a microwave oven. Ka Yang, 29 (pictured left) was arrested at her Sacramento home this morning and charged with homicide after a three-month investigation into what caused unusual burns on the child, Mirabelle Thao-Lo, who was found dead on the afternoon of March 17.
Sacramento police spokeswoman Laura Peck said there have been only three previous cases involving a child being burned in a microwave, and that detectives studied those cases and consulted with medical experts and pathologists before making the arrest. “It was a lengthy investigation to determine how these burns occurred,” Peck said. “When the officers arrived on scene they immediately saw there were unexplained injuries because of the burns. That led to this very lengthy, involved investigation to determine how these unusual and rare injuries occurred.”
The infant’s fourth-degree burns were among the worst investigators at the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office had seen, coroner’s spokesman Ed Smith said. “The child was apparently killed by the burning of the tissue,” Smith said. “I don’t know if they can say how long baby was in the microwave.”
Yang has three other children, all boys ages 7 and younger, and they were removed from the home that day, police said. The mother remained under suspicion while detectives studied previous cases in Texas, Virginia and Ohio. Peck said the Texas case involved a Galveston child who survived being placed inside a microwave. A second case in Dayton, Ohio, involved the 2005 death of a 4-week-old baby and resulted in a guilty verdict and life sentence last month for the baby’s mother. The 1999 death of a 1-month-old Virginia baby resulted in a five-year sentence for the mother. Peck said the rarity of such cases contributed to the length of time between Mirabelle’s death and today’s arrest.
“That’s why it took so long,” she said. “Normally, we make an arrest within a few days. But in a situation like this where we had to do so much analysis, it took some time for us to piece together.” Jail records show Yang is still in the process of being booked on charges of murder and assault resulting in the death of a child under 8.
There have been three other known cases of babies being burned inside microwaves before today’s arrest of Ka Yang, including:
— The September 1999 death of 1-month-old Joseph Lewis Martinez in New Kent County, Va. The baby was found in the oven and his mother, Elizabeth Renee Otte, told authorities she became confused during an epileptic seizure and placed the boy in the microwave instead of a bottle of milk. She was charged with murder and in 2000 pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to five years.
— The August 2005 death of 4-week-old Paris Talley in Dayton, Ohio. Talley’s mother, China Arnold, stood trial three times before her conviction last month on charges of aggravated murder. The jury in the case recommended a life sentence.
— The May 2007 injury of 2-month-old Ana Mauldin, who suffered burns on her left ear and arm after being placed inside a microwave oven for about 10 seconds in a Galveston, Texas, motel. The girl’s father, Joshua Mauldin, originally told authorities the child had been injured through by sunburn or scalding water. He was convicted in 2008 of injuring a child and sentenced to 25 years.
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Movie Intermission! Living with Murder (2011)
Description: In this 40-minute documentary the Free Press goes beyond the statistics to tell the story of a city shaped by a culture of violence and indiscriminate 'street justice.' With a soundtrack by Detroit musician Nick Speed. (11/16/2011 Detroit Free Press)