Thursday, November 10, 2011
Alexandria Clouse Desmond
Published May 1 2007
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Two roommates had just stuffed the battered body of an 18-year-old runaway into a box when officers knocked on their door to investigate a noise complaint Friday night, according to court records.
The roommates assured police that nothing was amiss and allowed officers to walk through their Hartford apartment, according to arrest warrant affidavits.
The officers left without knowing a homicide had just occurred and without discovering Alexandria Clouse-Desmond's beaten and bloodied body, which detectives later found in a cardboard box hidden in a closet, the records said.
The details are part of court records in the arrests of four people charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Clouse-Desmond, a runaway from the state-run Cedarcrest psychiatric hospital in Newington.
Police have charged 21-year-old Michael Davis, 18-year-old Tiara Dixon and 19-year-old Leslie Caraballo, all of Hartford; and 18-year-old Darzell Weinstein, of no certain address.
Davis and Caraballo, who live at the Laurel Street apartment, later told police in Springfield, Mass., about the homicide, police said. That led Hartford officers to return to the apartment, where they found Clouse-Desmond's body.
A preliminary report by the chief medical examiner's office concluded that she died of asphyxiation.
Connecticut's departments of mental health, children and families and the state Office of the Child Advocate each have launched investigations into Clouse-Desmond's death, and whether she and those charged in her death received the state services they needed.
"This is a horrific tragedy," said Jeanne Milstein, the state's child advocate. "A number of these children were very well known to DCF since they were quite young."
The address where Davis and Caraballo shared their apartment was leased by the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services as part of a state-supported independent living program for its clients.
According to arrest affidavits, the suspects assaulted Clouse-Desmond during a Monopoly game when she allegedly accused one of the men of raping her.
Clouse-Desmond was punched, kicked and choked with such ferocity that police who found her body initially could not determine her gender, the records said.
Her body was stripped, doused with bleach, wrapped in plastic bags and sheets, then stomped again to fit inside a cardboard box that had housed a microwave oven.
Clouse-Desmond had a history of suicide attempts and self-mutilation with razors and other sharp objects, and had run away from Cedarcrest. Her mother, Gina Desmond of Prospect, said relatives offered the 18-year-old a place to stay, but she wanted to be independent.
"I felt my daughter needed a lot of help, like many mentally ill people in Connecticut need more help," said Desmond, who believes state authorities did not provide the support and services her daughter needed.