June 12, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Father charged with murder of Detroit woman amid search for kids

Detroit— The father of one of the missing Detroit children whose mother’s body was found in an abandoned house was charged Thursday with killing her and another man was charged with being an accessory.

Erin Justice, 28, who is accused of shooting Alicia Fox and leaving her in an abandoned house on the city’s west side, is charged with first-degree murder, felon in possession of a firearm and felony firearm. He is being held by authorities in Atlanta and did not waive his extradition hearing, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

Also charged is Timothy Jones, 27, of Detroit, who is alleged to have known that Justice killed Fox and helped him after the crime, according to prosecutors. Jones is charged with being an accessory after the fact to a felony, a possible five-year prison sentence. He is expected to be arraigned in 36th District Court Friday morning.

With a suspect connected to the slaying in custody, police on Thursday focused their investigation on trying to find the two missing children.

Justice is the father of 8-month-old Kristian Justice. He was arrested Wednesday in Atlanta, where Detroit homicide detectives were interviewing him to find out what he knew about the children’s whereabouts.

“We believe he has information that can lead us to the children,” Police Chief James Craig said Thursday at a press conference. He said he’s hopeful Kristian and his 6-year-old sister, Kaylah Hunter, are alive.

Meanwhile, Detroit police Thursday night confirmed Fox’s car had been found at a salvage yard in Taylor. Other details were not released.

Jones was arrested Wednesday in Detroit, Craig said, adding Joneswas a “critical part of the investigation,” and that he couldn’t elaborate about his alleged role in the slaying.

Craig said Justice was a suspect from the outset, although he wasn’t initially named as one.

“Whenever there’s a female victim, we always thoroughly investigate the spouse or significant other,” Craig said. “We didn’t report him as a person of interest or suspect because there were other dynamics going on.”

Justice, 28, flew to Atlanta after Fox was reported missing, Craig said. He was arrested by a multi-jurisdictional task force in Atlanta after police found blood evidence in Fox’s home on Ardmore, although Craig said forensic tests will have to be conducted to determine whether the blood was Fox’s.

Craig said Justice planned to quietly return to Michigan. “Obviously, he wasn’t able to do so,” he said.

According to jail records in Fulton County, Ga., Justice was charged Wednesday as a fugitive from justice after being arrested by the FBI.

Justice also was convicted in 2008 of possession of a sawed-off shotgun, and delivery and manufacture of methamphetamine.

On Wednesday, police searched the backyard of an abandoned home at 18507 Ardmore, which is doors down from where Fox and the children had recently lived in their two-story bungalow.

Authorities said they had found loose dirt around the property when they searched for Fox and her children Monday on Ardmore. By Thursday morning, two holes were apparent in the backyard. One hole was narrow and about 4 feet deep. The other hole, nearly two feet away, was shallow and about 4 feet wide.

“It’s a pure evidence search,” said Decker.

Fox’s body was discovered on Monday in a vacant housein the 6800 block of Penrod. Police soon launched a search for the children.

Fox, 27, was last seen by her mother on May 24 at her house in the 18400 block of Ardmore.

Her last known communication was a text to Kaylah’s father, Kevin Hunter, on June 3. However, the text didn’t set off red flags. Hunter submitted a missing person’s report June 6 but because of the recent messaging three days prior, police weren’t aware of any foul play until Fox’s body was discovered.

FBI officials originally 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, Officer Adam Madera said.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Fox died from multiple gunshot wounds. By the time the autopsy was conducted, the body was severely decomposed, but family members were able to identify her through tattoos.

Detroit police described Fox’s daughter, Kaylah, as 4- foot 7-inches tall, 65 pounds, with a light complexion and black hair in cornrows.

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

Staff writer Mark Hicks contributed.

Police Chief James Craig speaks on the arrest of Erin Justice, the father of the two missing Detroit children, on Thursday at a news conference in Detroit. / Max Ortiz / The Detroit News
Justice (Fulton County Jail)
Kaylah Hunter, left, and Kristian Justice
Authorities dug this hole on the property of Ardmore on Wednesday. (David Coates / The Detroit News)