A man is expected to face charges in connection with the deaths of his 26-year-old girlfriend and her two daughters after witnesses reported that he beat up the young mother the night she was last seen alive, officials said.
Police in Milwaukee found the bodies of Amarah Banks, 26, and her daughters Camaria Banks, 4, and Zaniya Ivery, 5, in a garage Sunday morning after Banks' boyfriend, Arzel Ivery, provided officials with information about their whereabouts.
The discovery came just a day after police issued an Amber Alert for Banks and her daughters and after Milwaukee County prosecutors charged Ivery, 25, with aggravated battery for allegedly beating up Banks in the early morning hours of Feb. 8 at her apartment.
On Feb. 7, Banks attended a funeral for her and Ivery's son, according to the criminal complaint. Shortly after they returned home that night, neighbors told police that they heard the sounds of a man beating up a woman and saw Ivery drag Banks into her building as she screamed, “No, no, please don’t kill me," according to the criminal complaint. The next day, on Feb. 9, Banks's family reported her missing.
When contacted about the missing person report, Ivery told police he went over to Banks's apartment at about 1:30 a.m. Feb. 8 and said they got into an argument over their son's death. He said Banks blamed him for the death of their son and told him that "she could not even look at him because he reminded her of their son," the complaint said.
He told police that at some point Banks went outside the apartment complex and that he had to "coach" her back inside. He said he stayed for a little bit before leaving to go sleep in his truck. When police contacted him, Ivery was in Memphis, Tennessee, and told officials he didn't know where Banks or her daughters were, according to the complaint.
At some point during the investigation, Ivery's father contacted the Memphis Police Department and told them that his son said he had killed his child’s mother and the two other children, according to the complaint.
Early Saturday morning, Memphis police contacted Milwaukee officials, saying that they had contact with Ivery and that he had provided information that "caused members of the Milwaukee Police Department to believe that the lives of Ms. Banks and her children were in immediate danger," the department said in a statement.
Milwaukee detectives then went to Memphis to speak with Ivery, who provided them with information that led them to the garage, Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said.
Morales declined to comment on the condition of the bodies or a cause of death during a press conference Sunday.
"This is a tragic reminder of the severity of domestic violence," the department said in a statement.
Ivery was taken into custody by officials in Tennessee on Saturday and booked on a fugitive from justice charge, according to online booking records. Milwaukee police said Ivery would be extradited to Wisconsin in the coming days and that additional criminal charges would be presented to prosecutors.
Meka Smith, Banks' sister, told FOX6 News that she and her sister, who family members said also went by Jerica, were close and that her daughters were "mama's girls."
"It's heartbreaking," Smith said. "I don't even know what to do. I just wish she was here. Why'd he have to do that to them? She didn't deserve this. She really didn't. How can you be so evil?"
Ivery and Banks' 21-month-old son Arzel Ivery Jr., whose funeral took place before Ivery was heard beating Banks, died from bronchitis on Jan. 24, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's office.
The medical examiner's report on the boy's death said that Ivery tried to drop their son off at daycare that morning along with his two sisters but that he was turned away because he appeared to be too sick.
During the day, Ivery tried to get his son to eat and tried to give him medicine, but the child had no interest in eating and wouldn't accept any medication, according to the report. The boy, who had a history of asthma, was having trouble breathing throughout the day.
At about 3 p.m., Ivery tried to wake the boy from a nap but couldn't, the report said. After picking up the girls from daycare and stopping at a Family Dollar store for snacks, Ivery took his son to the hospital. When they arrived, the boy had no pulse. He was pronounced dead at 5:17 p.m.