An 11-year-old boy shot five times alongside his mother and teenage sister implicated the man who did it before dying at the hospital, according to murder charges.
TeKeith Syvone Jones, 26, was charged Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court with three counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of his ex-girlfriend, D'Zondria Wallace, 30, and her two children, La'Porsha, 14, and Ja'Corbie, 11. Jones remains jailed in lieu of $5 million bail.
In a police interview, Jones eventually confessed to the shooting but gave inconsistent answers on the motive. "Jones didn't know why he killed them," charges say, but claimed he was trying to "save them."
"Hell, yeah, I saved them — they can go up and be holy," Jones reportedly told investigators, adding that he kissed all three victims.
According to the criminal complaint:
Officers were called to a fourplex on the 700 block of Jessie Street around 3 p.m. Saturday after a relative entered the home and saw "blood everywhere." Just inside the door, first responders found La'Porsha mortally wounded on the floor, shot 10 times. Her mother lay dead on the couch with two apparent gunshot wounds. Fourteen shell casings littered the room.
Only Ja'Corbie was still alive. When asked who shot him, he responded: "Keith." The boy died a few hours later in emergency surgery at Regions Hospital.
"I know that Ja'Corbie fought to stay alive to say it was his mom's boyfriend," said Jeanette Whitehall, a cousin who helped raise the kids for a year before Wallace could relocate to Minnesota. "Now Coby can rest."
Wallace had told relatives she was two months pregnant with Jones' baby. The charges make no reference to the alleged pregnancy — nor do they mention the welfare check performed on the Payne-Phalen home by police an hour before the shooting.
A spokesman for the county attorney's office said prosecutors received no information indicating that Wallace was pregnant at the time of her death. When a reporter inquired about what her autopsy determined, chief investigator Tiffany Krob noted that a victim's pregnancy status is not public under Minnesota law. The investigation remains ongoing.
Wallace told her mother she'd broken off the relationship with Jones several weeks ago, but relayed concerns about his increasingly violent behavior. A nephew later told police that Jones continued to come by the house even after the breakup and always carried a semiautomatic handgun.
The nephew recalled an incident in December where Jones broke in through a kitchen window, "swung her around," and accused her of seeing other men.
Jones eventually calmed down, charges say. The next morning he fired a pistol at Wallace but missed. She never reported the incident to police.
"She was fearing for her life," her mother, Mary Wallace told the Star Tribune. She reportedly began seeing someone else in mid-January. "He was jealous."
A neighbor's security camera caught Jones peeking through the window of Wallace's apartment Saturday afternoon, about 30 minutes before the bodies were discovered. He was seen entering the house shortly before running outside to a Jeep Compass with damage to the front bumper and no license plate.
Later that day, a state trooper came across Jones outside his vehicle at Hwy. 61 and Burns Avenue. Jones, keeping his head down, explained that he ran out of gas. The trooper promised to return to help after responding to a call. But Jones ran away once the trooper was out of sight, leaving his keys inside the abandoned car.
Investigators were able to match the Jeep to the one caught on surveillance leaving the crime scene. The vehicle's registered owner told authorities that a man she knows as "Santana" — a name that matches his Facebook profile — took the Jeep without permission earlier that morning. She admitted to dropping him at Wallace's place and the Bradley House Apartments at 2150 Wilson Av. in the past.
Security footage obtained from that building showed a woman letting Jones into the complex just two hours after the slayings. On Sunday night, members of the St. Paul SWAT team arrested Jones there, charges say, where they found a loaded Ruger 9mm handgun with an extended magazine in the closet — later confirmed as the murder weapon.
In his first court appearance Tuesday, Jones appeared via Zoom, handcuffed, wearing a dark-green jail jumpsuit and a surgical mask.
Judge Richard H. Kyle appointed a public defender to represent him after Jones acknowledged that he is unemployed and has no other source of income. His next hearing is scheduled for March 2.
Court records show that Jones served more than six years in a Texas prison for a 2012 aggravated robbery conviction. He was released in August 2019 and moved to Minnesota sometime after that but has no permanent address.
"My heart sinks to know that a mother and her two children were taken from us in such a senseless and violent way," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a statement. "We will do everything in our power to bring justice to the victims and our community in this case."
If you or a loved one are in need of resources, contact the Minnesota Domestic Violence Crisis Hotline at 1-866-223-1111.