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Bodies Of Missing Ohio Teens Found In Burned-Down Vacant House; 5 Charged In Connection To Case
KeMarion Wilder, 16, and Kyshawn Pittman, 15, were last seen on Dec. 3, according to Toledo Police. Cruz Garcia, 24, is now charged with kidnapping and murder.
The bodies of two teenage boys missing for days were found in a burnt, vacant home in Toledo, Ohio, according to police, and five people are now under arrest on charges related to their kidnapping and murder.
KeMarion Wilder, 16, and Kyshawn Pittman, 15, were reported missing on the Toledo Police Facebook page on Dec. 6. Officers said they were last seen on Dec. 3 along Chippewa Road.
Their disappearance led to community-wide searches, and after nearly two weeks, the teens’ bodies were discovered last Thursday in the rubble of a burned house in north Toledo, police said.
According to court documents obtained by Toledo CBS station WTOL, the teenagers were seen for the last time around 8:15 p.m. on Dec. 3, at a party at the Maumee Bay Resort, before the hosts asked them to leave because the teens had a gun. Police said surveillance video showed the teens being picked up around that time by a silver SUV. WTOL reports the ride was arranged by Wilder’s girlfriend. Court documents say Wilder and Pittman were seen on a video chat at 9:06 p.m. in the basement of a home along Maumee Ave.
Court documents reported by WTOL show police conducted a search warrant on that home on Dec. 9, and found multiple pieces of evidence, including ammunition and a piece of glass with possible blood on it.
Corbin Gingrich and Carissa Eames, the owner of the home, as well as Crystal LaForge-Yingling, were questioned about the missing boys on Dec. 13. WTOL reports all three are Wilder’s girlfriend’s family — her grandma, uncle and uncle’s girlfriend. All three were charged with obstructing justice, according to WTOL.
The investigation led officers to search the rubble of a vacant house that burned down on Chase St. back on Dec. 5, according to Toledo police. Firefighters searched the first and second floors of the house when it first caught fire but were forced to get out after a firefighter was injured falling through stairs, WTOL reported. Ten days later, police searched the basement of the house for the first time and found two dead bodies, which were identified Friday as the missing teens.
Toledo Fire Chief Allison Armstrong said the bodies weren’t found earlier in the month by firefighters because crews routinely fight vacant fires from outside to keep firefighters safe, according to WTOL.
Toledo police arrested two more people on Thursday. Cruz Garcia, 24, is charged with two counts of kidnapping. Court documents from WTOL say evidence shows Garcia assaulted the teens with a gun, tied them up and led them to a waiting vehicle. The documents say Garcia traveled to the abandoned house both at the time of the kidnapping, and several times prior to the fire, WTOL reported. On Friday, police upgraded the charges against Garcia to include murder, according to WTOL.
A friend of Garcia's, Diamond Rivera, 29, is charged with obstruction of justice, according to WTOL. Rivera was questioned several times in relation to the kidnapping investigation, according to court documents, and gave a false alibi for a suspect.
A vigil was held on Friday by the families of the teens found dead, at the location where the bodies were discovered.
“He was a good person,” Wilder’s sister, M’Aaliya Nino, told WTOL. “He was very outgoing. He lights up any room he’s ever been in ... he was the glue to my family. We’ll miss him.”
Nino said that the teens' bodies being found doesn’t ease the family’s grief, but “it feels better to know they’re not just out here suffering,” according to WTOL.
“They were kids, and no matter what the situation was, I know they ain’t deserve that,” Nino told WTOL.
On Tuesday, Garcia was arraigned on two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping, and his bond was set at $2.25 million, according to WTOL. Lucas County assistant prosecutor John Arnsby said during the hearing that one of the victims’ deaths involved strangulation and thermal burns, and the second victim’s cause of death was thermal burns. The coroner’s investigation is still ongoing.
“There’s more people involved, and we’re trying to track down every lead we have, through every bit of information we collect ourselves,” Police Lieutenant Dan Gerken said at a press conference Friday. “We’ll take any information we can from the community. If you’re a witness or you know something, call us. It’s tragic.”