Authorities have linked rapper YNW Melly to the murders of two men whom he described as his “brothers,” and they say it’s because his story describing how they died just doesn’t add up.
Police in Miramar, Florida arrested the 19-year-old rapper, born Jamell Demons, on Feb. 13 on first degree murder charges in connection with the deaths of 19-year-old Christopher Thomas Jr. and 21-year-old Anthony Williams in October. Also facing charges in the deaths of Thomas and Williams is Demons’ friend, 20-year-old Cortlen Henry, who was arrested last month in Houston, Texas and then extradited to Florida earlier this month.
Henry is alleged to have driven Thomas and Williams, who authorities say had been shot multiple times, to Memorial Miramar Hospital in the early morning hours of October 26, where they were pronounced dead, police said in a statement issued via Facebook on the same day that Demons and Henry were arrested.
Police claim that Demons was actually the one who shot Thomas and Williams, and contend that Demons and Henry together staged a fake drive-by shooting. The findings of a preliminary investigation coupled with forensic evidence are not in line with what Henry told them, police said in their statement.
New details regarding Demons’ case have since been revealed to the public. Investigators say that Henry reported that he, Thomas, and Williams were in a car together when another car pulled up alongside them on the right side and opened fire, according to court documents filed in Broward County and obtained by Complex.
In direct contradiction to this statement, an autopsy report revealed that the shots that killed Thomas and Williams traveled from “left to right” and were fired from inside of the vehicle — specifically, the “left rear passenger side,” which is where Demons allegedly had been sitting, the documents reportedly state. Surveillance footage showed all four men leaving a recording studio together and Demons getting into the left side of the back seat, police claim, according to TMZ.
Police say that they also discovered a single shell casing inside the vehicle and eight more matching shell casings in a location where cops suspect Demons and Henry fired into the car to suggest that a drive-by had occurred, TMZ reports.
Phone records obtained from Demons’ and Henry’s cell providers also allegedly show that they were together at the time of the shooting, police said, according to Complex. Authorities believe the two men drove around with the bodies of Thomas and Williams in the car before taking them to the hospital, the documents suggest.
“This was a calculated effort to establish their own version of the incident in an attempt to deceive law enforcement,” the documents read, per Complex's report.
Henry later told police that Demons had been in the car with them, but said that he got out of the car and into another at some point, according to TMZ.
Demons publicly mourned the loss of Thomas and Williams in an Instagram post last year, writing, “They Took My Brothers From Me Over Jealousy.” But investigators pointed to Snapchat messages Demons allegedly sent to his girlfriend two weeks after Thomas and Williams were killed as evidence that something suspicious had been going on, Complex reports.
“Dis n---a saved my life he coming everywhere wit me cuz of dem crackers come grab him it’s my fault u forgot? I keep Bortlen wit me kuz at da end of the day he did one of a realist s--t in my life,” one Snapchat message reportedly read. “Bortlen” likely refers to Henry, who was also known as “YNW Bortlen.”
Demons was booked into the Broward County Jail on Feb. 13, hours after announcing on Instagram that he’d be turning himself in.
“I am turning myself in today I want you guys to know I love you and appreciate every single one of y’all, a couple months ago I lost my two brothers by violence and now the system want to find justice.. unfortunately a lot of rumors and lies are being said but no worries god is with me and my brother @ynw.bortlen and we want y’all to remember it’s a ynw Family,” he wrote. He then added an “I love you” to Thomas and Williams, referring to them by their stage names of YNW Juvy and YNW Sakchaser, respectively.
Demons remains in police custody after a judge denied him bond earlier this month, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. His attorney Bradford Cohen said that his client was "sad" and "upset" over the deaths of his friends, commenting, “Those were his best friends.”
He faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted, according to PEOPLE.
Demons released his first studio album, “We All Shine,” last month, and has a collaboration with Kanye West to his name. Both Thomas and Williams were featured in a YouTube documentary about Demons’ life, and a scene near the end of the video contains a "R.I.P." message honoring both men.
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