CLEVELAND — The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner has identified two of the four people found dead in an abandoned house on East 144th Street on Saturday night. For the loved ones of one of the victims, 23-year-old Christopher Monroe, the positive identification of his remains have only prompted additional and increasingly more painful questions.
While the identities of the two remaining victims have not been publicly released, the medical examiner said all four victims were killed by multiple gunshot wounds.
Dejuan Willis, 20, and Monroe, both from Cleveland, were identified by their fingerprints as two of the four victims found dead in a house in the 3600 block of East 144th Street Saturday night, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner announced Wednesday. The deaths of all four people have been ruled as homicides. All four cases are still under active investigation, and the other victims will be identified once their identities are confirmed and next of kin have been notified.
Monroe’s former girlfriend, Sierra Hayes, said the most difficult part has been trying to tell their young son, Pierre, that his father is gone.
“All I can say was, ‘Pierre, your dad is gone.’ That’s all I could say: your dad is gone,” Hayes said. “He just stopped, looked, blanked out and said, ‘my daddy not gone.’"
Since Saturday night’s discovery of the four decomposing bodies, Hayes said she feared that Monroe might be among the dead. Hayes and Monroe once lived in the home at least three years ago when Pierre was an infant. The porch where the small family once shared is now full of teddy bears, cards, balloons and handmade signs.
“I can’t check up on him and ask him, ‘when are you going to see your son? When are you going come spend time with your son?’” Hayes said. “I can’t tell him that no more. It’s heartbreaking. I don’t want to go to sleep because of what happened. I can’t. It just hurts. Just to think about my baby dad, it hurts.”
Hayes said she and Monroe separated more than a year ago but still tried to maintain a positive co-parenting relationship. The family was planning on going out to eat next month to celebrate Pierre’s fourth birthday. That was the subject of their last conversation several weeks ago.
“I would have never thought my baby daddy’s life would be over. I can’t ever think about that. I cannot imagine that. I can’t,” Hayes said.
Cleveland police homicide detectives are actively working the investigation but very few details have been released. Police officials said Saturday that officers recovered a gun from the abandoned home. While no persons of interest or suspects have been publicly identified, Hayes said she’s convinced that someone in the neighborhood knows what happened and who might be responsible for it.
“Who did it? We’re trying to figure out who did it. Somebody around here knows who did it. They just don’t want to come up and tell no one,” Hayes said. “I just really want to know what really happened. What made them do this? Why would someone go in there and shoot them? For what?”
A candlelight vigil has been set for Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. outside the home in the 3600 block of East 144th Street.
At three-years-old, Pierre is old enough to know what’s going on but young enough to not fully comprehend it. As he and his emotionally drained mother stood on the front porch, Pierre asked his mother a simple question that is beyond difficult to answer.
“My daddy died? Is he alive?” Pierre asked.