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'We want the death penalty': Feds evaluating whether to prosecute Warren homicides

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Correction: The slain 28-year-old woman was not the biological mother of the 6-year-old boy. This story has been updated to clarify their relationship. 

Warren —  It was a horrifying scene: two bodies, a mother and a 6-year-old boy, found shot to death in the basement of their home, just miles away from another grisly scene where the father of the youth was found, like the woman and boy, shot in the head.

The discovery in Warren on Thursday, spurred by a wellness check, by Friday had sparked outrage by law enforcement, the creation of a task force to investigate the deaths and calls for the federal government to step in.

“We want the death penalty,” said Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer. “When you murder a 6-year-old child, the person or persons responsible deserve the death penalty.”

Police tape hangs Friday outside a house on Otis, just two homes from the end of a dead-end street where a woman and her son, 6, were found dead. A light is still on inside the home, and two unmarked Warren police vehicles are parked outside to protect the crime scene.

A Warren-Detroit police task force is investigating the deaths of a man, his girlfriend and their 6-year-old son in the neighboring cities.

Police have made no arrests and have not publicly identified the three victims. All three were shot in the head.

Michigan does not have the death penalty. The federal government allows death sentences in some federal crimes. 

"The murder of a child is a horrible crime," U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said Friday. "In order for a murder case to be charged federally, there must be a connection to federal law. At this very early stage, we are still gathering evidence about that."

Dwyer cited the killing of a witness as a possible federal connection, but he declined to elaborate which of the victims was a witness.

The victims of the "execution-style" slayings Thursday in Warren — a 28-year-old woman and the 6-year-old found in the basement of a home on the 2200 block of Otis Avenue — are connected to a 31-year-old man whose body was found in a burned vehicle in Detroit that morning, police said Friday.

Thursday:Police: 2 people found slain in south Warren

Earlier, at about 2 a.m. on the 2100 block of Hyde Park in Detroit, firefighters extinguished a vehicle fire and found the 31-year-old man's burned body.

The vehicle, a Kia Sorrento, was a rental car with Massachusetts plates.

Thursday:Detroit police investigate two deaths, including body burned 'beyond recognition'

Cmdr. Eric Decker of the Detroit Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit said the rented Kia helped police identify the victim. That led them to the home on Otis, where the door was ajar when police knocked.

Commander Eric Decker of the Detroit Police Department speaks on the joint investigation by Warren and Detroit police into three murders discovered Thursday in the neighboring cities.

Detroit police then called their counterparts in Warren and asked them to conduct a wellness check at the home and found the bodies.

“We’re still looking into the exact chain of events” that led to what to the three homicides, he said.

Dwyer said police were reviewing video footage on Friday. 

Dwyer said the motive could be connected to drugs, but it was too early in the investigation to confirm that.

“It would just be speculation at this point,” Dwyer said.