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Suspect arrested in W. Bloomfield woman's death

Charles E. Ramirez, and Mike Martindale

A second person has been arrested in connection with the murder of a West Bloomfield Township woman who was found in the trunk of a torched car last week.

Jaylen Steven Stringer, 19, also of West Bloomfield, has been arrested and charged with tampering with evidence and accessory after the fact, police said Friday. If convicted, he faces more than 10 years in prison for the evidence tampering charge.

Jaylen Steven Stringer

The charges against Stringer come four days after authorities charged Desean Maurice Smith, 18, of Detroit, with open murder and use of a firearm in the death of Diana Pesserl, 31.

Police said Smith and Stringer are childhood friends and Smith was visiting Stringer at the time they allegedly committed the crime.

Smith was arraigned in court on the charges after a three-day investigation by the township police department into what appears to have been a random shooting with a still-unknown motive.

Police said Pesserl’s body was found in the trunk of her car at the vacant Pine Lake Elementary school by firefighters last week Friday. 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 Stinger and Smith after a patrolman reported seeing them in a parked VW Passat in the area of the fire.

Police questioned and released the pair, but then tracked them down and interviewed them again after the woman’s body was found.

During Smith's court hearing, a police detective told the judge tire tracks and shoe footprints officers found in the snow matched Smith's and Stinger's.

The investigator said Smith left Stinger's house to go for a walk. The suspect got lost, asked directions and at some point, encountered Pesserl. Smith told his friend he asked “an Arabian female” in the car for directions and a cigarette, according to police.

Smith then allegedly returned to his friend’s house. He allegedly said during a conversation “the bitch tried to grab my gun so I had to shoot her,” police said.

Desean Maurice Smith

Investigators recovered a .38 caliber revolver and ammunition hidden in a vent inside Stinger's house, the detective said.

Smith is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary conference on Dec. 19 and a preliminary examination on Dec. 27.

cramirez@detroitnews.com