West Bloomfield police say two teen suspects have been arrested in connection with the murder of a woman whose body was found inside the trunk of her burning vehicle.
According to the Fox 2 Detroit, firefighters rushed to Pine Lake Elementary School on Long Lake Road, which is between Orchard Lake and Middlebelt roads last week after receiving a call about a burning vehicle in the parking lot.
After extinguishing the fire, police officials discovered the body of 31-year-old Diana Pesserl, who suffered a single gunshot wound to the abdomen, in the trunk.
Police scoured the area and discovered two teens – Desean L. Smith, 18, and 19-year-old Jaylen S. Stringer – hanging out at a nearby lake. The duo was questioned and police officials documented their names but let them go, believing the teens had nothing to do with the homicide.
However, detectives stated that footprints and a witness, who claimed to have “heard a car horn going and a woman screaming” and added that a “female was observed running from the vehicle, followed by the same impressions at the scene of the burning vehicle,” prompted them to track down Smith and Stringer.
Detectives visited Stringer’s home, where they began questioning him about the homicide.
It was reported that Smith was visiting his friend Stringer, who lives a few houses down from the victim, and went outside for a smoke.
“‘Smith returned approximately an hour and a half later and showed a person the butt of a firearm in his waistband,’ according to an admission. [Smith said to his friend] ‘Pesserl tried to grab my pistol so I had to shoot her.’”
According to Detective Derek Kane, police later found a “.38 pistol and 10 rounds of ammunition.”
Smith was arrested Monday on charges of “open murder and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony in Pesserl’s death.”
Stringer is facing “evidence tampering and accessory after the fact in relation to a homicide charge.”
Circumstances leading up to the murder and a motive has yet to be determined but an investigation continues.
Bloomfield police officials believe that Pesserl may have died in a “botched robbery” or an attempt sexual assault as they found Smith’s “pants, boots, and phone in a separate location.”
Authorities say the victim was sitting in her vehicle, listening to music – something she has always done – when she was allegedly approached by Smith and was fatally shot in the abdomen.
West Bloomfield Deputy Police Chief Curt Lawson stated that “it’s in the realm of possibility that occurred, but it has not been confirmed yet. We have a lot of physical and circumstantial evidence in the case, and are still actively working to try to piece everything together.”
Family and friends were stunned after learning the mother of a young son was gunned down before her body was placed inside the trunk of her vehicle and set on fire. In a Facebook post, Brooke Jones Bright wrote, “You were an amazing woman that deserved so much more out of life. I can only hope your son reminds the world what an astounding woman you were. I’m at a loss. So many memories, so many thoughts for those around you.”
Crystal Marsh, who is believed to be a family friend, created a Go Fund Me page for the victim’s son, which will “help with his education and any counseling services he may need – now or in the future. We want him to know that his mother was loved and that he is part of a large community. It’s important that he know there is kindness and good in this world,” according to the site.
Smith appeared in front of a judge on Monday, where he maintains his innocence. He told the judge, “For myself, I’m not an escape risk. I’m going to come to court. I don’t have any problems. I’m not going to run because I feel I didn’t do anything wrong.”
The suspect “is scheduled to make another court appearance for a preliminary conference on December 19 and a preliminary examination on December 27.”
Stringer is being held at the Oakland County Jail on a $250,000 bond.
[Featured Image By Andris Barbans/iStock]