Authorities allege David E. Pietura, 27, and Erik Mendoza, 15, admitted to beating 5-year-old Prince McCree to death before disposing of his body
Content warning: This story contains descriptions of disturbing violence.
Two people, including a teenager, have been charged with murder in connection with the death of a 5-year-old boy whose body was found in a Milwaukee dumpster last week.
Prince McCree, 5, was reported missing by his mother around 6 p.m. on Oct. 25, according to a criminal complaint reviewed by PEOPLE. His body was reportedly found at about 9 a.m. the next day in a dumpster behind a bar about a mile away from his home. Prince's death was determined to be a homicide.
An Oct. 30 press release from the Milwaukee Police Department confirms David E. Pietura, 27, and Erik Mendoza, 15, were charged with first-degree intentional homicide, physical abuse of a child causing death and hiding a corpse in connection with the boy’s death.
Mendoza was additionally charged with three counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety in connection with a series of alleged stabbings on Oct. 23 in the city, per the criminal complaint.
It’s unclear if the suspects have entered pleas or retained attorneys to speak on their behalf.
According to the criminal complaint, both Pietura and Mendoza admitted to beating the boy to death and disposing of his body. The suspects reportedly lived in separate areas of the same home as Prince's and Mendoza’s family.
On the morning Prince was reported missing, his mother kept him home from school after he complained of having a cough and sore throat. The complaint states that the boy’s mother last saw him around 9 a.m. when she believed he went down to the basement to play video games.
After authorities uncovered evidence inside the home, Pietura and Mendoza were questioned by police. While Pietura initially denied any involvement, he allegedly eventually admitted to investigators that he walked in on the 15-year-old choking Prince in the basement and did not intervene, according to the complaint. The complaint alleges the pair then bound and gagged the boy, put his body into garbage bags, and repeatedly beat Prince by taking turns striking him with a golf club and at one point even using a barbell and concrete pedestal.
Pietura allegedly admitted it was his idea to bound and gag Prince before putting his body in garbage bags, according to the complaint. Pietura also allegedly said during an interview with police that Mendoza has “talked for some time about wanting to kill someone,” adding that the 15-year-old never liked the little boy and discussed wanting to kill him.
Authorities allege that after beating the boy, the two walked to a nearby dumpster and disposed of his body in such a way that it was hidden by other garbage bags in the dumpster, according to the complaint.
“Defendant Pietura’s original plan was to walk towards the trail that leads to the sewage line and place PRM’s body in the sewage line but PRM’s body was 'too heavy,'” the complaint states.
When they got back to the home, Mendoza allegedly used a rag to clean the blood off the basement floor.
According to the complaint, investigators recovered surveillance footage of Pietura and Mendoza carrying a large white garbage bag and approaching the dumpster where authorities later recovered Prince's body. The pair are then seen leaving the area without the garbage bag, per the complaint.
A preliminary autopsy performed at the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the boy died of multiple blunt force injuries and ruled his death a homicide.
LaTonya Johnson, a state senator and neighbor of the kindergartener’s family, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last week that Prince's parents were distraught and in shock after learning of their son's death.
“This neighborhood is relatively quiet,” she said. “You don’t see a lot of police activity. We knew it was something serious.”
According to the complaint, Mendoza also allegedly admitted to police that he stabbed three strangers in the city on Oct. 23. Authorities said they recovered the butterfly knife he allegedly used in each stabbing while investigating Prince's death.
“Defendant Mendoza admitted feeling a rush from stabbing each victim but feeling bad after committing the stabbings,” the complaint states. “When asked what he would say to the stabbing victims, Defendant Mendoza responded, “I’m sorry, but you are alive.””
Marie Stillo, a cousin of Prince's mother, created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money “to provide Prince with a funeral and headstone that he deserves, and to help his mom and dad with whatever they may need during this difficult time,” according to the fundraiser description.
“Prince loved Transformers, Spiderman, Fortnite, Roblox, school, learning, and Baby Shark when he was younger,” she wrote. “Our little angel was very loved by his father, mother, brother, sister, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and many other loved ones and friends.”
In the press release, the Milwaukee Police Department thanked its investigators for their hard work “in bringing Mendoza and Pietura to justice.”
“MPD continues to send our condolences to the McCree family and everyone that was impacted by this horrendous tragedy.”
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