2 felons charged in Milwaukee slayings of 2 women, 2 kids and ensuing fire after $800 robbery

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Police: $800 robbery preceded Wis. slayings, fire

MILWAUKEE — Two felons were charged Thursday with homicide and arson in the deaths of a mother, her two young children and a woman who also was the men’s alleged accomplice in a case that began with an $800 robbery.

Desmond Laster, 21, and Anthony Edward Barnes, 23, of Milwaukee, face four counts each of first-degree intentional homicide and arson. They also are charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.

A criminal complaint said Brittney Robertson, 19, allegedly brought Laster and Barnes to the apartment she shared with Rachel Thompson, 23, at about 3:30 a.m. last Friday to rob the woman.

The trio found Thompson sleeping on the couch with two of her three sons, 3-year-old Jaden and 4-year-old Torian, according to the complaint based heavily on Barnes’ statements to investigators. Laster punched Thompson in the face to wake her up and tied her up with duct tape, the complaint said.

Both boys also were bound with duct tape and plastic bags taped over their heads before they were put in the home’s bathtub, according to the complaint. Robertson told the younger boy they were “going to play a little game,” according to the complaint, and stabbed him in the neck when he struggled.

Robertson, who had dated the father of Thompson’s third son, started “talking trash” to Thompson, the complaint said.

“What type of (expletive) are you to have your baby’s daddy’s other girl living with you?” Barnes quoted Robertson as saying.

Robertson then repeatedly stabbed Thompson and appeared at one point to slash the woman’s throat, Barnes told investigators. Barnes said Laster told him to shoot Thompson, saying “I killed the babies.” Barnes told authorities he closed his eyes and fired a shot.

Laster and Robertson squirted lighter fluid they brought with them around the apartment, the complaint said.

Laster lit a blanket and a door on fire as they fled the home with $800 and Thompson’s 6-week-old son, Maurice Visor, Jr. The infant was later found unharmed in a baby carrier outside a church. The two older boys died of asphyxia and Thompson, who was found with melted plastic on her face, died of blunt force trauma and stab wounds, according to the complaint.

Barnes told investigators that Laster decided later that day that they had to kill Robertson or she would tell on them. The men picked her up, told her they were getting marijuana and parked near some townhouses, the complaint said.

They got out of the vehicle and as Robertson and Lester walked ahead of Barnes, Laster directed Barnes to shoot her, by saying “Now,” the complaint said. Barnes shot her in the back of the head and they ran.

Two acquaintances of Robertson told police they had telephone conversations with her earlier that afternoon during which she cried and confessed to her part in the slayings at the duplex, saying she hated Thompson because she was in love with the father of Thompson’s infant son, according to the complaint. The father is in prison.

Laster’s previous convictions include cocaine possession, second-degree recklessly endangering safety and criminal damage to property. Barnes has been convicted of misappropriation of personal identification and disorderly conduct, among other charges.

will not be displayed