A Texas man accused of killing his own 2-year-old daughter reportedly Facetimed the child’s mother during the murder, all while engaging with police in a high-speed chase.
Deontray Flanagan, 25, stands accused of one count of felony murder for the death of his daughter, Zevaya Marie Flanagan, according to Houston-area law enforcement.
“Her face was just covered in blood,” Kairsten Watson, the girl’s mother, told Fox affiliate KRIV. “He hit her with something really hard, and then he called me on Facetime, and he showed me. He choked her on Facetime. I said, ‘Tray stop, that is your daughter, stop, she loves you.’ His exact words were you only love that man, you did this to her,”
At around 10:00 a.m. on Monday, March 20, Flanagan took his daughter out of day care and then barged into a nearby Walmart, according to the Houston Police Department. There, the defendant allegedly confronted Watson and began threatening her – demanding her phone, passcodes, and other related information.
“Basically threatening to hurt the child if she did not turn those items over,” an HPD spokesperson said during a press conference. “She complied. She made an attempt to try and rescue her daughter from his stronghold. But she was unable to do so. At that point, we’re told, [Deontray Flanagan] struck her possibly a couple of times to the face and continued to flee the location.”
The defendant left with his daughter, his own phone, and Watson’s phone, police say. After that, law enforcement was contacted and quickly honed in on the location by tracking one of the phones.
A 45-minute-long chase ensued; spanning some 30 or so miles. Flanagan allegedly traveled the wrong way on some roads and slammed into other vehicles. Police say they finally caught up with the red Camaro and that the girl was traveling all the while without a seatbelt on – not that it mattered in the end.
While driving, police allege, the defendant repeatedly contacted Watson and her mother via Facetime – again demanding login information.
“I know in her mind she probably was just like ‘what did I do?’ Watson told local CBS affiliate KHOU. “‘Why are you doing this to me for? Like I love you, why are you hurting me?’”
The girl’s grandmother told the TV station she had hopes, ultimately misplaced, that the terrifying incident would end peacefully.
“But then he showed me the lifeless corpse of my granddaughter,” Curtis Watson told KHOU. “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. To have to go through that type of anguish and pain.”
Once the defendant’s car was stopped, police said, there was a 20-minute-long standoff. Then the SWAT team moved in.
Zevaya Flanagan required CPR, authorities said. The defendant was unharmed. The girl was rushed to a nearby hospital in a helicopter. But it was too late, she was pronounced dead on arrival.
The defendant was initially held on $1 million bond; on Wednesday, a judge increased that amount to $2 million.
Authorities have said additional charges could be forthcoming pending autopsy results.
“Right now, felony murder is the most appropriate charge without knowing more about the medical evidence,” Gilbert Sawtelle, with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, said in comments reported by local ABC affiliate KTRK. “Once we hear back from the medical examiner about exactly what killed her, the charge could certainly be upgraded. It’s my suspicion that Zevaya died due to strangulation, which would not be the result of any sort of blunt force impacts that she sustained in the car, driving with the defendant. And if that is the case, that’s an intentional or knowing killing of a child less than 10, so that would be capital murder.”
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