Man held in death of W. Bloomfield woman in burned car

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Bloomfield Hills — An 18-year-old Detroit man was charged Monday with open murder and use of a firearm in the death of a woman whose body was found in the trunk of a torched car last Friday.

Desean Maurice Smith

Desean Maurice Smith was arraigned by Bloomfield 48th District Court Judge Marc Barron in the death of Diana Pesserl, 31, of West Bloomfield after a three-day investigation by the township police department into what appears to have been a random shooting with a still-unknown motive.

Barron denied bond due to the circumstances of the case and the probability the suspect would flee due to the seriousness of the charges.

“I’m going to come to court, I’m not going to run, I didn’t do anything wrong ... I’m just not a risk,” said Smith, asking for bond consideration from Barron.

Barron disagreed, also noting there was no prior relationship between Smith and his alleged victim.

Diana Pesserl

Pesserl’s body was found in the trunk of her car at the vacant Pine Lake Elementary school by firefighters early Friday morning. The vehicle was deliberately set on fire behind the school off of Long Lake. An autopsy determined she had been fatally shot in the abdomen.

Investigators interviewed two men — a 19-year-old township resident and Smith — identified by a patrolman as having been seen in the area around the time of the fire parked in a VW Passat at a DNR site on Orchard Lake. The pair initially had been questioned and released by police and then tracked down and reinterviewed after the woman’s body was found.

Detective Derek Kase told Barron fresh tire tracks and shoe footprints in the snow matched the suspect and the township resident who were “childhood friends.”

Kase said Smith left his friend’s house and went for a walk in the subdivision near the school, got lost and asked directions. At some point, he allegedly encountered Pesserl whose family said had a habit of sitting alone inside her car for hours listening to music. Smith told his friend he asked “an Arabian female” in the car for directions and a cigarette.

Neighbors said before the fire at the school they heard a car horn and a woman’s scream near where her car was parked. The vehicle was driven along a sidewalk to the back of the school where it was set on fire.

Smith allegedly returned to his friend’s house where during a conversation he allegedly revealed “the bitch tried to grab my gun so I had to shoot her.” The .38 caliber revolver and ammunition were found hidden in a vent inside the friend’s house, Kase told Barron.

Barron set a preliminary conference for Dec. 19 and a preliminary examination for Dec. 27.

Kase told Barron that Smith has a pending outstanding warrant for carjacking out of Detroit.


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