Friend says suspect detailed how he killed mom, girl

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

The Detroit man charged with the grisly murders of a mom and her 4-year-old daughter allegedly told acquaintances horrific details about how he killed them before placing their bodies in the basement of an abandoned eastside home.

The bodies of Heidi Walker, 39, and her daughter, Savannah, 4, both of Detroit, were found Feb. 20.

Marcus Tyrone Hightower, 34, Walker’s boyfriend, turned himself into police three days later.

Coleman Gibson, Walker’s ex-boyfriend and a friend of Hightower’s, testified Hightower told him on Feb. 16 he had killed the woman and her young daughter.

“He said Heidi was gone,” Gibson said. “He said he killed her. He said he stabbed her in the neck (and) she bled out. He was upset and cried. He said he loved (Heidi Walker).”

Hightower, according to Gibson, also said he strangled Savannah by laying her across his lap and “using a pillow.”

According to the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office Walker was stabbed multiple times in the face and neck. There also were contusions on her body. Savannah was asphyxiated. The medical examiner did not rule out she had been smothered.

Gibson said Hightower told him he placed Walker’s and Savannah’s bodies in the basement of the home on Lakeview near Forest after he killed them.

Gibson admitted he did not contact police about what Hightower allegedly told him. He said Hightower was carrying an AK-47 and a 9mm when he told him about the deaths.

Gibson said Hightower told another man, identified as Hightower’s brother, about the murders, but that he was looking to kill that man because he believed he told someone about the killings. The brother, Argentry Hamilton, was brought to court from a prison but refused to answer Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey’s questions.

Detroit Police Sgt. Shannon Jones testified Hightower told her Feb. 23 after he turned himself in to authorities that “I can’t go back to general population. They’re going to kill me. So I came and turned myself in so I can start doing the time for the thing that I did.”

Also Thursday, Hightower’s sister, Tomaca Hightower, testified she went out with her brother and Walker two days before the bodies were found. Tomaca Hightower said the couple argued during their night out at a casino. Her brother accused Walker of looking at another man. Tomaca Hightower said her brother had jealousy issues.

Hightower’s sister said that when she didn’t see Walker and Savannah at the family’s home on Cadillac after she got home from work the night of Feb. 15 she became concerned about Walker’s whereabouts.

The couple, along with Savannah, lived in a bedroom at Tomaca Hightower’s home. The sister said she noticed most of the items in the room had been moved out.

Tomaca Hightower said she texted and paged Walker to try to find her. She said her brother told her Walker had left him and taken Savannah.

“I asked him where Heidi is. He told me he was with her and then he told me he wasn’t with her. I asked to speak to her but he wouldn’t put her on the phone,” Tomaca Hightower said.

A third Hightower family member, nephew Deandre Hightower, was thrown in jail for contempt of court at the request of 36th District Court Judge Shannon Holmes. He was admonished for speaking low and “mumbling” while on the witness stand.

After court was adjourned for the day, Walker’s sister told The Detroit News that Tomaca Hightower called her on Feb. 15 to tell her Walker was dead.

Holly Cauchi, among Walker family members who attended the hearing, said she had only met Marcus Hightower three times but sensed something was “off” about him.

Cauchi said her sister “didn’t always make the best choice in men. She just wanted to be loved.”

She said Hightower jumped on her sister in January and bit her head, causing a major injury for which she didn’t get stitches.

The Livingston County Sheriff’s Department issued the Amber Alert for Savannah after her older sister reported the child missing. Walker’s adult daughter said there had been a history of domestic violence between the couple.

Hightower has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder as well as one count each of felony murder, first-degree child abuse, unlawful imprisonment and third-degree arson for the crime.

The preliminary examination continues Aug. 3.