Family, friends mourn 2 Metro Detroit women slain in Daytona Beach
At 21, Timesha Carswell was starting a new life.
The Inkster native last month relocated to Florida, where she planned to study music — a steppingstone, relatives said, to someday launching a career as an opera singer.
“She was somebody who did everything she wanted, even it was out of the ordinary,” said her older sister, Cherise Gallon. “She’s always been fearless. Anything she wanted, she went after and did it.”
On Thursday, an unthinkable tragedy extinguished that tireless spirit.
Just weeks after moving to Daytona Beach and a month before her 22nd birthday, Carswell was fatally shot along with another Metro Detroiter, identified in broadcast reports as Diona McDonald, 19, of Southfield. Both women were students at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black university.
A third person, Micah Parham, was critically wounded in the incident, according to media reports. Those reports also indicate he was a resident of Inkster.
The man investigators believed was responsible for the shootings, is now also dead. Police arrested 27-year-old York Zed Bodden in Miami Friday, charging him with two counts of first-degree murder as well as a charge of aggravated assault.
Within hours of his arrest, officials at the Miami-Dade County Jail found Bodden dead in his cell, after the suspect apparently hanged himself.
According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood said he learned Saturday afternoon about Bodden’s death.
Chitwood said, “He saved the state the expense.”
Officials said Bodden was arrested Friday in North Miami after fatally shooting McDonald and Carswell and critically injuring Parham, also a B-CU student, in a residence at Carolina Club Apartments.
The News-Journal reported Thursday the suspect had been asked to leave the residence. The women had asked a male friend to help them evict Bodden.
Chitwood said the women were shot in the head and the man was sprayed with bullets.
In a Facebook post Friday, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit said McDonald was once a member. Singer Josh Groban and the group are slated to dedicate a song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” to her memory during his Oct. 9 concert at the Fox Theatre, according to the website.
“The entire Mosaic Family mourns this great loss and we send out our love and condolences to Diona’s family,” the post read.
Meanwhile, Carswell’s family is seeking answers and wondering what led to the loss of a lively, outgoing young woman devoted to singing, family, friends and worship.
“We’re just all in state of shock right now,” Gallon said. “We were just with her. We just sent her off to school a couple weeks go. You never expect something like this to happen … while somebody is at school.”
The third oldest of nine children, Carswell had previously attended Kentucky State University after graduating from Inkster High School. High tuition forced her to return home and work as awaitress to save money and “start over,” Gallon said.
Eventually Carswell — also called Lisa — applied for a scholarship to Bethune-Cookman where she planned to sing in a gospel choir, relatives said. Though moving alone thousands of miles away, “she has always traveled and went off and did things on her own,” Gallon said, adding her sister had previously interned at Walt Disney World. “She’s always been adventurous.”
Still, Carswell’s family is unclear about the few short weeks she spent on her own.
Gallon was in frequent contact with her sister until this week and said the names of the other victim and suspect never emerged in conversations. She also disputes media reports that suggested Carswell dated the gunman, whom authorities accused of opening fire after a disagreement.
“We have no clue why she was there in the first place,” Gallon said.
In a statement, Bethune-Cookman officials said while the campus’ Department of Public Safety is working with the Daytona Beach Police Department, it is considered an active investigation and ( Daytona police) will release all official information. … This is a very unfortunate incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the families, loved ones and fellow classmates of these students.”
Carswell last contacted Gallon on Monday, saying “someone had stolen her wallet and information,” her sister said.
The next day, as usual, Gallon also texted Carswell a picture of a daily devotional with a Scripture. Back home, the younger sister had long been active in church and was “very adamant” about accompanying siblings to services, she said. “She’s only 21 years old but she definitely had a soul that was way older than that.”
Gallon became concerned when Carswell didn’t respond. But when another sister came to her apartment in tears after learning about the shooting, she initially assumed ongoing violence in Inkster had claimed one of their brothers. “If you knew the type of person she was ... it’s impossible to imagine that somebody would be able to do something like that to her,” she said. “We had just all saved our pennies and gave her the last of what we had to get her down there. It just makes no sense that we sent her down there to sing for God, to sing in the gospel choir and she was killed. It just makes no sense at all.”
Though relatives are devastated and wondering what spurred the suspect, Gallon said, “We’re God-fearing people. We believe that if this happened, then that was in God’s plan for her. But we don’t feel any type of anger or malice or anything towards him. But we’re definitely happy that he’s behind bars now and that they’ve caught him.”
Meanwhile, struggling to cover the cost of transporting Carswell’s body to Michigan as well as arranging a funeral, relatives set up a GoFundMe account with a goal of $20,000.
“God truly called a beautiful soul to rest,” one donor wrote Friday night.
While her death is “a huge blow,” Gallon said, the family has also experienced other hardships recently — which Carswell had strived to soften.
“We lost both of our granddads in a short time span. …She was always going to try to find the good in a situation. She was going to crack the first joke to ease the tension in the room or if people are hurt or they’re sad or they’re crying,” her sister said. “Now everybody’s hurt and they’re sad and they’re crying over her. And she can’t be there to crack jokes about herself because she’s gone.”
Detroit News reporter Jim Lynch and Associated Press contributed