“It only takes a split second. We can no longer assume that everyone is a part of the village that is trying to raise the child. We cannot take those things for granted.”
It was the 12th of October 2019. A Sunday. Three year old Kamille McKinney was at a birthday party in the Tom Brown Village Housing Community of Birmingham, Alabama, United States. Her parents, April Thomas and Dominic McKinney, gave her the nickname Cupcake because of how cute and lovable she was.
Kamille was at the birthday party with relatives but that evening, she went outside to play with a friend. She was last seen at 8.30pm playing but after that , nobody knew where she was. She was no longer just outside playing. The police were called and quickly determined that Kamille had been abducted. An Amber Alert was issued. Kamille had been wearing a pink T-shirt with leopard print on it and leopard-print shorts with no shoes when she was last seen.
Police spoke to the children at the party. A ten year old boy told them that he saw a man and woman driving an SUV and they were handing out candy. He said he later saw Kamille in that same SUV. She was crying. They obtained surveillance footage from the area and saw Kamille playing with her friend.
The footage showed one man walk past them and then a second man appeared on the footage. He had a limp and spoke to the two children. When he walked off, they ran behind him and out of view of the camera. Police wanted to speak to that man. Witnesses told police a man was handing out candy in the neighborhood that day.
Kamille McKinney Missing Poster
Two girls told police that the day Kamille went missing, they were approached by a man. They were on their way home from cheerleading practice at Haynes K-8 School when they were approached by a blue Toyota Sequoia. The man in the car told one of the girls, who was eleven years old:
“I’m looking for a girl that looks like you.”
He offered both of the girls candy but one of the girls was nervous and said “Let’s go” and they both walked off. The girls told police that the man in the car wasn't alone. There was a woman in the car too. Based on their account of what happened and the location where they were stopped, police obtained surveillance footage from the Shell gas station nearby. The footage showed a man buying $18.91 worth of candy. That was seven hours before Kamille was abducted. Police believed that that was the same man seen on the surveillance footage with Kamille.
Police asked the public for assistance. They released images of the person of interest and photos of the blue Toyota Sequoia.
They received tips and calls identifying the man in the images. The tips they received led police to Patrick Devone Stallworth and his partner Derick Irisha Brown.
When police went to the condominium complex in Center Point where he lived, they found an SUV which looked like the one they were looking for in the parking lot.
Police arrested Patrick and Derick on the 13th of October. But despite the arrests, police had no idea where Kamille was at that point. She was still missing.
Ten days after Kamille was abducted, her remains were found. Kamille's remains were found at an Alabama landfill on the 22nd of October.
An Autopsy determined her cause of death to be asphyxiation by suffocation. Toxicology reports revealed there were toxic levels of methamphetamine and Trazodone in Kamille's system. The levels of the drugs indicated Kamille had ingested the drugs. She was not just exposed to them.
Patrick and Derick, who were in a relationship for just under one year, began to talk and they blamed each other for Kamille's death. According to Patrick, he returned home and saw Kamille on the couch with Derick. Derick told him that she wanted to "keep the girl" and asked him to do something sexual to her. Patrick refused, went outside for a cigarette and then went to bed. When he woke up, Kamille was in bed beside him.
Derick's version of events was different. She claimed that she did not know Patrick took Kamille until she saw her in the SUV. When they got back home, she went outside for a cigarette and then took a pill and fell asleep. Derick claimed that when she woke up, Patrick was sexually abusing Kamille and she saw him forcing Kamille to perform oral sex on him.
Patrick and Derick were charged with capital murder.
At the preliminary hearing, the Prosecution outlined further details in relation to Kamille's abduction and death. Detective Jonathan Ross testified that cellphone records put Patrick at the scene of the abduction. He also testified that Patrick bought almost $20 worth of candy from a gas station the same day that Kamille was abducted.
When Patrick was in custody, police observed scratches on his chest. DNA testing on blood found on a plastic cover from a mattress that was in the living room where Patrick and Derick lived showed a mixture of DNA belonging to Patrick, Derick and Kamille. The Court heard arguments from Patrick's lawyer that DNA swabs of Kamille’s body found no signs of sexual assault. But the Prosecution argued that due to the level of decomposition that had occurred by the time Kamille was found, it was difficult to determine what, if any, sexual abuse had taken place.
The Court also heard there was footage from a Chevron gas station the night of Kamille’s abduction. At some point, after Kamille's abduction, Patrick went to the gas station and bought an energy drink and a pill for sexual dysfunction.
It was also revealed at the hearing that after the Amber Alert was issued for Kamille, Patrick called his mother several times after 10.39pm the night of the 12th of October. Cell phone records showed a lot of movement between Patrick's and Derick's condo and the adjacent Parkway Villa apartments. They are accessible to one another via a pathway through a wooded area. Parkway Village was largely vacant and Kamille's remains were dumped in a construction dumpster there. The dumpster had been transported to a landfill near Warrior, where police and FBI agents recovered Kamille’s body.
In addition to the capital murder charges, Patrick is charged with multiple counts of possession of child pornography and possession with the intent to disseminate child pornography. The images were found on his cellphone when he was arrested in relation to Kamille's abduction. They were not images of Kamille.
Derick is charged with felony attempting to elude officers and second-degree assault. Those charges are from an incident that took place in 2018. Police allege she kidnapped her own three children at gunpoint after they were taken from her custody.
The Judge at the preliminary hearing believed that both of their cases should be sent to a Grand Jury. He believed the evidence showed they were acting in concert. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Clyde Jones said:
“It’s clear to me one or both of them sexually abused this child, then killed her.”
Both Patrick's and Derick's cases were forwarded to the Grand Jury. They are currently awaiting Trial. They are both charged with capital murder of a victim less than 14 years old and have been indicted on federal kidnapping charges.They are each charged with one count of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to kidnap a minor.If convicted, they could face the death penalty.
They both entered not guilty pleas in federal court.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello
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