June 11, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Father arrested for murder in Atlanta; police in Detroit continue search for missing kids

Detroit — The father of one of two missing Detroit children was arrested in Atlanta on Wednesday in the slaying of the children’s mother, Alicia Fox, a police source familiar with the investigation told The Detroit News.

A second man police believe was an accessory to her death is also in custody. He was arrested in Detroit, the source said.

A warrant was signed Wednesday accusing Erin Justice — father of one of the missing children, 8-month-old Kristian Justice — of killing Fox and leaving her in an abandoned house on the city’s west side, the source said.

Detroit police detectives flew to Atlanta to bring Justice to Michigan, where he is expected to be charged with first-degree murder, the source said.

The search for Kristian and his 6-year-old sister, Kaylah Hunter, continued Wednesday. Police gathered at a home on the block where Fox and the children had recently lived and began digging around 6 p.m. Wednesday; police remained at the scene at 11:30 p.m.

Authorities said they had found loose dirt around the property when they searched for Fox and her children Monday on Ardmore, and that dogs were seen in the backyard.

Fox’s body was discovered in a vacant house on Penrod on Monday. Police soon launched a search for the children.

On Wednesday, they searched the backyard of an abandon home at 18507 Ardmore. Yellow police tape was placed around a streetlight pole and street sign on Margareta. Homicide Capt. Eric Decker said a freshly dug hole behind the house was discovered Tuesday.

“It’s a pure evidence search,” said Decker. “We are just trying to make sure we cover all bases.”

The FBI; Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Michigan State Police were involved in the search.

Neighbors gathered to watch as police used shovels to dig. Later, dozens of neighbors formed a prayer circle in the street.

“Enough is enough,” said Pamela Sellers, who led the prayer. “I am tired of it. God is in control of all things but right now the devil is the prince of this earth.”

Shirley Woodard, who has lived on Stansbury, one street over from Ardmore for 35 years, said she is saddened by the turn of eventssad over what the course of events. She said someone in the area handed out fliers about the children. She worries about the fate of the children, she said.

Detroit police said Wednesday that federal authorities in Georgia had interviewed Fox’s husband.

FBI officials met with Erin Justice in Atlanta after Fox’s body was found and more than three weeks since his son and stepdaughter were seen last, Madera said.

“We reached out to the FBI in Georgia and he voluntarily came in to make a statement,” said Madera. “He is being cooperative.”

He was not arrested and left after meeting with authorities, Madera said.

Family members, some of whom were sobbing, said they spoke with detectives about 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Fox, 27, was last seen by her mother on May 24 at her house in the 18400 block of Ardmore. She recently moved out of the house with her children, where she stayed with her husband until “very recently,” according to police.

Melissa Mumtfield, who lives across the street from Fox’s house, said she would regularly see Kaylah biking down the street and Fox walking into the house with Kristian. Mumtfield said she thought the family of four was moving when she spotted Erin Justice loading a U-Haul truck with another man about two weeks ago.

“I just thought they were a nice couple starting a family,” Mumtfield said. “It was kind of shocking to learn that a neighbor has been missing, then found dead in a basement and she’s been there for some time. It’s like you never know who you live next door to.

“The mother’s dead, the father’s moved and they can’t find the kids. I really hope and pray they find the kids somewhere.”

Several plain-clothed police officers canvassed the area of Fox’s Ardmore residence Wednesday afternoon, asking neighbors a series of questions, on two questions, including if they had witnessed anything suspicious or including dumping, Mumtfield said.

Her last known communication was a text to Kaylah’s father, Kevin Hunter, on June 3 at about 5 p.m. However, the text didn’t set off red flags. Hunter submitted a missing person report on June 6 but because of the recent messaging three days prior, police weren’t aware of any foul play until Fox’s body was found at about 7 p.m. Monday in the basement of an abandoned house in the 6800 block of Penrod, nearly eight miles from her Ardmore address.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds, including two to the head.

After the grisly discovery of her sister inside the house, Christene Doughty and other relatives are continued to search for the children Tuesday afternoon. “Our family is passing out fliers, and talking to people in the neighborhood, asking if they’ve seen anything,” Doughty said Tuesday.

Detroit police described Fox’s daughter, Kaylah, as 4 foot 7, 65 pounds, with a light complexion and black hair in cornrows. Police are still on the lookout for Fox’s burgundy Chevrolet Impala bearing the Michigan license plate CCR1286, according to police.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Detroit Police Department’s Criminal Investigations at (313) 596-1240.

(313) 222-2541

A prayer circle forms near Ardmore and Margareta on Wednesday as police search for two missing children at an abandoned home. / Photos by Steve Perez / The Detroit News
A Detroit Police officer walks in to the back of a home Wednesday evening ... (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)
Kaylah Hunter, left, and Kristian Justice
Detroit Police undercover officers interview neighbors near the home of ... (David Coates / The Detroit News)