McKnight, son may have been killed in basement, police say

Updated: Sunday, August 28, 2016 @ 3:12 PM
Published: Thursday, April 17, 2014 @ 11:05 PM
By: Mark Gokavi - Staff Writer

As family and friends prepare to pay their respects to Nichelle McKnight at her funeral with military honors today, they hope that her 4-year-old son Zaden will be found alive.

But court documents first obtained by the Dayton Daily News indicate the boy may have suffered a similar fate as his 25-year-old mother, who police said was murdered late last month.

A police affidavit states, “During the investigation of these missing persons, it was found that the two may have been killed in the basement of 23 Birchwood Ave.” in Dayton.

Police found blood and the shoes McKnight was wearing when she was reported missing in the home’s basement, along with her driver’s license, bank cards, and the Social Security cards for both McKnight and Zaden, according to the affidavit.

The home on Birchwood is the residence of Tonisha Harris, 29, who was indicted Tuesday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court on charges related to McKnight’s disappearance. The charges include six counts of receiving stolen property and one count each of theft by deception and misuse of a credit card, all fifth-degree felonies.

Harris pleaded not guilty to the charges and even had her bond lowered from $250,000 to $10,000, despite the chance she may face other charges related to McKnight’s case. Judge Dennis Langer ruled that DNA can be collected from Harris and that, if she does make bond, she must be placed on electronic monitoring.

Despite the evidence collected, Harris is not facing charges related to McKnight’s death. Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Greg Flannagan said the McKnight homicide is an open investigation, and authorities are still processing what was found in her home. That includes seeing if Harris’ blood matches the evidence that was found in her basement.

“As far as the homicide goes, certainly we have to see where that investigation goes,” Flannagan said.

McKnight reportedly discovered the thefts days before she disappeared on March 25. Her body was found April 11 near the banks of the Stillwater River.

According to a Dayton police incident report, Harris allegedly stole money from McKnight’s Chase bank account, and made purchases at area Walmarts using McKnight’s credit card. In total she allegedly stole nearly $3,000. The thefts were reportedly committed at the instruction of McKnight’s boyfriend, 26-year-old Antwan Anderson, whom police said was also in a relationship with Harris.

McKnight, an Air Force reservist, is having all her funeral expenses paid for by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars. Air Force officials said McKnight was assigned to the 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from March 21, 2008 until March 16 this year, less than two weeks before she disappeared. McKnight received the Air Force commendation medal and was never deployed.

Funeral services for McKnight are scheduled for 1 p.m. today at Greater Love Christian Church, 2345 Lakeview Ave.

“The men and women of the 445th Airlift Wing are deeply saddened by the passing of Senior Airman Nichelle McKnight, a valuable member and contributor to the 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron’s mission,” said Col. Jeffrey J. McGalliard, 445th Airlift Wing commander. “Our thoughts and prayers are extended to her family and friends.”

Robert Critell, past VFW District 3 commander, said members have volunteered to greet people and be pall bearers, present flags, have a bugler and provide a firing squad salute, if necessary. “We’re going to make sure that that veteran get what she deserves,” Critell said. “From my understanding, (the family) were just completely overwhelmed… . If they find her child is deceased, we’re prepared to take care of that, too.”

McKnight disappeared March 25, shortly after she reportedly confronted Anderson about the thefts. He was Dayton police’s No. 1 suspect in the disappearance and McKnight and her son. However, Anderson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound during a police shootout after a pursuit with Dayton officers on April 7.

Harris was arrested that same night after police executed several search warrants throughout the region as part of their investigation in the McKnight case. Copies of the search warrants indicating what officers found inside the Birchwood Avenue home have been sealed.

Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl declined an interview request, but said that the affidavit “speaks for itself.”

McKnight wasn’t reported missing until March 29, and preliminary autopsy results from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office indicate she likely died March 27 of two gunshot wounds to the head. Her death has been ruled a homicide. Her son is also presumed dead, but his body has not been located. Police continue to search for him, and have asked agencies south along the Stillwater River to be on the lookout for his remains.

In a development Thursday night, an official with Ohio Task Force 1 said the Dayton Police Department has contacted the organization about helping in the search for Zaden.

Evan Schuman, a representative of the organization, said that while the task force has not committed any of its resources, he has put the department in touch with a contact that can get the department dogs that are used to detect human remains. That contact is associated with the task force, Schuman said, and has access to several of the specialized canines.

Schuman shared the new information in an interview about the task force’s return to the Miami Valley from helping in the search for victims from the recent mudslides in Washington state.

Police officials said they believe Harris has information on McKnight’s disappearance, but has not cooperated with investigators. Her criminal record reveals Harris was repeatedly given intervention in lieu of conviction (ILC) and probation. She received ILC for improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property in a 2006 case and for theft in 2007.

Harris received intervention for another 2007 forgery count, which she unsuccessfully tried to get sealed. She also was placed on community control in a 2010 forgery case. Harris declined an interview request from the Dayton Daily News.

Daquann Norman, a neighbor of Harris’ who said he and his girlfriend are moving because of concerns about murders being committed down the street, said: “It’s shocking that they can’t find that little boy and they found her dead. We don’t really want to think of bad results for the little boy. Hopefully he’s out there safe and somebody will bring him home to his family.”

Anyone with information on the case can call police using their anonymous tip line at (937) 222-7867.

While Dwyane Wade reacts to cousin’s death, Donald Trump politicizes tragedy

Updated: Monday, August 29, 2016 @ 4:09 AM
Published: Saturday, August 27, 2016 @ 5:46 PM
By: Tom D'Angelo

While Dwyane Wade and his mother were speaking out about the death of Nykea Aldridge, Wade’s first cousin who was shot and killed on the South Side of Chicago on Friday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attempted to politicize the tragedy.

>> Social media slams Donald Trump for tweet about Dwyane Wade's cousin's death

Wade, who recently left the Miami Heat to sign with his hometown Chicago Bulls, posted a tweet Friday denouncing gun violence.

On Saturday, Wade posted about Chicago needing more help to combat the violence.

Wade’s mother, Jolinda Wade, a pastor at New Creation church, spoke on behalf of the family Friday outside the hospital where Aldridge was pronounced dead.

“Just sat up on a panel yesterday... talking about the violence that’s going on within our city of Chicago, never knowing that the next day we would be the ones that would be actually living and experiencing it,” Jolinda said as she held her sister. “We’re still going to try and help these people to transform their minds and give them a different direction, so this thing won’t keep happening. We’re still going to help empower people like the one who senselessly shot my niece in the head.”

Wade and his mother were part of a series of panel discussions on gun violence hosted Thursday by The Undefeated on ESPN and held at the South Side YMCA in Chicago. Dwyane Wade was not in Chicago for the discussions. He appeared via satellite.

Following the discussion and less than 24 hours before his cousin was killed, Wade posted on Twitter: “Every 16 mins someone in Chicago is killed by a firearm.”

Meanwhile, Trump took to Twitter to attempt to exploit the tragedy connecting the shooting to a reason why African-Americans will vote for him for president. Trump spelled Wade’s first name wrong in his initial tweet.

​It is not the first time Trump has tried to exploit a tragedy. In the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando that left 50 dead, including the gunman, Trump took to Twitter to congratulate himself:

Nykea Aldridge, 32, had recently relocated to an area on the city’s South Side, her family said.

Police said Aldridge, 32, was pushing a baby stroller near a school where she intended to register her children when two males walked up and fired shots at a third man. Aldridge, who wasn’t the intended target, was struck in the head and arm. Police said the baby wasn’t hurt and that a relative has taken custody of the child.

The school is about a mile and a half southwest of the University of Chicago.

Police are questioning two men who they say are persons of interest, according to reports.

The Bulls later issued a statement, saying the organization was “deeply saddened” by the news of Aldridge’s death.

Wade signed a two-year deal worth approximately $47 million last month after spending the first 13 years of his NBA career with the Heat.

Social media slams Donald Trump for tweet about Dwyane Wade's cousin's death

Updated: Monday, August 29, 2016 @ 4:09 AM
Published: Sunday, August 28, 2016 @ 5:33 AM
By: Cox Media Group National Content Desk

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to comment on the death of Nykea Aldridge, cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade, stirring controversy and sparking outrage on social media.

>> While Dwyane Wade reacts to cousin’s death, Donald Trump politicizes tragedy

"Dwayne Wade's (sic) cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago," Trump initially wrote Saturday morning, misspelling Wade's first name. "Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!"

That tweet apparently was deleted and later replaced with one using the correct spelling Saturday afternoon.

>> See the corrected tweet here

>> Read more trending stories

Trump later tweeted condolences to the Wade family.

Critics slammed Trump for politicizing Aldridge's death. 

>> Click here or scroll down to see what they were saying

Brothers arrested in the shooting death of Dwyane Wade's cousin

Updated: Monday, August 29, 2016 @ 4:09 AM
Published: Monday, August 29, 2016 @ 3:32 AM
By: Carter Woodiel

            Brothers arrested in the shooting death of Dwyane Wade's cousin
Darwin Sorrells Jr. (left) and Derren Sorrells. (Chicago Police Department)

Two brothers have been arrested in the fatal shooting of Dwyane Wade's cousin. 

>> Watch the video from Newsy

Nykea Aldridge, 32, was pushing her baby in a stroller on her way to register her children at a school in Chicago's South Side when two men reportedly walked up and opened fire on the man she was with. According to WGN, Aldridge was caught in the crossfire and died at the hospital.

Derren Sorrells and Darwin Sorrells Jr. were both charged with first-degree murder on Sunday. Police did not immediately say which brother allegedly fired the shot that killed Aldridge, but a police spokesman called Darwin Sorrells the "co-conspirator."

"Bullets that fly around that have no name decided to find its way to her head," said Wade's mother, Jolinda, a pastor.

>> Social media slams Donald Trump for tweet about Dwyane Wade's cousin's death

Just one day before Aldridge's shooting, Jolinda appeared on a town hall discussion hosted by ESPN's "The Undefeated," where she and her son made a public stand against gun violence.

"It's deep-rooted, and this is something that didn't start today, this is something that's not going to end tomorrow, but this is something that we can start a conversation, we can start the work today and hopefully, eventually, we can stop it," Wade said.

>> While Dwyane Wade reacts to cousin’s death, Donald Trump politicizes tragedy

Gun violence is widespread in Chicago, and it appears to be growing. According to the Chicago Tribune, over 2,700 people have been shot in the city so far this year, only about 250 shy of the total for all of 2015.

Speaking out about that violence is personal for Wade, a Chicago native who recently signed with the Chicago Bulls. But he isn't alone among NBA stars. At the ESPY Awards in July, Wade opened the program along with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and LeBron James.

"The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando, it has to stop; enough," Wade said.

>> Read more trending stories

Both of the Sorrells brothers have lengthy criminal records. Aldridge was the mother of four children. The baby in the stroller she was pushing was unharmed.

Drug kingpin's hippos cause problems in wild

Updated: Monday, August 29, 2016 @ 1:06 AM
Published: Sunday, August 28, 2016 @ 5:27 PM
By: Lindsey Pulse

In another round of things we didn't think we had to say out loud, a note to exotic-pet owners: Don't let your pets loose in the wild.

A herd of hippos formerly owned by the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar has been on the loose since his death in 1993.

And over the past two decades, those hippos have multiplied and become an invasive species in northern Colombia.

Escobar, who has an entire Netflix series based off his life, was known for his exotic pets. Aside from hippos, the kingpin reportedly kept giraffes, elephants and ostriches at his compound.

>> Read more trending stories

But hippos aren't native to this part of Colombia. In fact, they're not native to South America at all.

And if the herd isn't controlled soon, authorities fear the animals could pose a threat to people and native ecosystems.

If we move north on the globe, the problem of invasive animals doesn't get any better. Florida has had problems with several species invading the state — and no, we're not talking about pythons.

Capybaras, which basically look like overgrown guinea pigs, have found their way from South America to northern Florida. They're legal to own as pets, but it appears people are setting them free.

And those massive rodents eat a lot of plants, which isn't great for vegetation in the area they've inhabited. Granted, the animals  aren't considered an invasive species yet, but they're well on their way.

And if oversized guinea pigs aren't bad enough, Florida is also battling parasite-carrying giant African snails.

So, from the Asian carp to zebra mussels and the European starling, it appears we're already dealing with a lot of animals that shouldn't be around. Maybe keep the hippos penned up next time.