A Buffalo teen and her boyfriend are charged with second-degree murder in the death of the girl's 58-year-old father Friday night in their home.
Alexandria Heath, 17, and Romaine Jirdon, 19, also of Buffalo, are accused of beating and stabbing Thomas Heath around 9:30 p.m. in the Heaths' West Ferry Street home, District Attorney John J. Flynn announced Sunday.
Heath and Jirdon were arraigned Sunday morning by City Court Judge Amy C. Martoche. They pleaded not guilty and were sent back to jail without bail. Martoche set a felony hearing for Nov. 22.
Flynn did not reveal a possible motive for the attack, but said there "was apparently an altercation at the home," and police received a call from someone who had "heard a noise or something." When officers arrived and gained entry, they found the victim already dead.
No one else was in the home but officers learned that Alexandria Heath lived there with her father, and police eventually tracked down both her and Jirdon.
"After some brief questioning, they took them into custody," Flynn said. "At this time, we don't know exactly what happened ... but we have enough information to arrest the two of them for the beating and stabbing."
The DA said an autopsy was being conducted, but he wouldn't comment further on any evidence, including what was used to strike Thomas Heath or how many times he was stabbed. Flynn also would not say if anything was taken from the house.
At least one neighbor may have heard some of the argument and assault, although he said he didn't see it and didn't know precisely what it was about. But he and two other neighbors said Alexandria Heath is pregnant, and the first neighbor said her father had objected strongly when Jirdon tried to move into the house a week ago.
"I guess her boyfriend and her father got into it," he said.
The neighbor, who did not call police and did not want to be identified, said he heard the youth yell, "Get down on the floor, b---h!" Then he heard glass breaking, followed by another exclamation from Jirdon: "We gotta get the (expletive) outta here."
Then he heard two car doors close, and saw a tan or gold Jeep Grand Cherokee drive away. Ten minutes later, police arrived, banging on the Heaths' home to gain access.
The neighbors interviewed by The Buffalo News said they didn't know the family that well, but saw many people coming in and out of the house during the day, and one suspected illicit activity. Flynn said he did not know how long the younger Heath and her boyfriend had been together, but that Jirdon had been at the house where Alexandria lived with her father "on and off."
However, neighbors said the elder Heath generally left for work at 6:30 in the morning and returned around 6 p.m., and that they would notice Jirdon was there when Thomas heath was gone, so the two didn't seem to interact much.
Jirdon also had been arrested earlier this month in another attack. He and Jose R. Flores of Ferguson Street are charged with third-degree assault and second-degree harassment for allegedly pistol-whipping and punching a man in the face. That followed a heated argument with the man and a woman, during which Jirdon reportedly pointed a BB gun at the woman's head and threatened to shoot her before he and Flores attacked the man. Jirdon also is charged with second-degree menacing in that case.
Still, Friday's events were unexpected. "We heard nothing, so it was a shock when I saw the police there," one woman said.
The three-story brown and green shingle home sits in the middle of the block between South Putnam and Baynes streets. It's a neighborhood of two-family homes that other residents said has seen more than its share of turnover and crime.
Neighbors said some of the houses have been rented to college students, with frequent comings and goings, while only a few of the homes have seen stability in ownership for a long time. This is the third murder on the block that the one woman could recall, although she said she wasn't worried because all three involved families, and weren't random.
Inside the first floor of the home, an unkempt bed is visible in a lighted bedroom, along with a green dresser with one drawer still open, an old green desk and chair, a revolving floor mirror, a small metal bookshelf and a white plastic hamper. On Sunday, a single piece of mail sat in the box outside the locked front door.
In the hallway outside the room stood a bright green Christmas tree, already decorated with a star on top and red stockings hanging behind it.