Race was Behind Brutal Torture-Murder

Race was Behind Brutal Torture-Murder

Published April 7, 2009

Turns out that the torture-murder of a White Marine sergeant and his African-American wife was the handiwork of four other Marines who were angry over the mixed-race relationship.

Ever since investigators found Sgt. Jan Pietrzak and his wife, Quiana, in their California home bound in red duct tape with gunshot wounds to their heads in October, police have insisted that the couple were slain for their money. But on Friday, a key prosecution witness revealed a stunning bit of information – that racist remarks were spray-painted on the walls of their home, The New York Daily News reports.

"N----- Lover" was written on the wall near the master bedroom and on a bathroom mirror, Riverside County Homicide Investigator Benjamin Ramirez testified at a preliminary hearing, according to the News. But even more shocking, prosecutors say, is the fact that those responsible for the brutal homicide of the 24-year-old Marine and his 26-year-old wife are four Black fellow Marines.

Prosecutors allege that the Marines – Pvt. Emrys John, 18; Lance Cpl. Tyrone Miller, 20; Pvt. Kesuan (Psycho) Sykes, 21 and Pvt. Kevin Cox, 20 – burst into the Pietrzak’s home in Temecula, Calif., with shotguns, and tied up and tortured the couple. They also repeatedly raped Quiana, before John shot them both in the head, prosecutors say.

The hearing at which Ramirez testified was held to determine whether the Marines should stand trial for the murders. They have all pleaded not guilty; but if they should be convicted, they face the death penalty.

The investigator’s testimony was jolting. His description of the grisly crime scene was the stuff of horror films. Ramirez said that when he arrived at the Pietrzaks' home, Quiana was found leaning against a couch with red duct tape covering her eyes and gunshot wounds to her head and right side. Her husband “was found leaning against his wife, his face, wrists and ankles bound with red duct tape. He had been shot in the right cheek, and there was blood ‘almost covering his entire face,’" the News reports, citing Ramirez.  He also noted that there were two sofa cushions that apparently had been used to muffle the gunshot blasts and “evidence the killers tried to cover their tracks by setting a small fire. They left behind footprints that tied them to the crime,” he said.

The victims’ mothers wept during the two-day hearing.

"We're going to visit our children at the grave," Henryka Pietrzak-Varga of Bensonhurst said later. "That's all we have left after this."

Pietrzak's mother and Quiana's mother, Glenda Faye Williams-Jenkins, never believed their children’s murders were about robbery. It is unclear why Riverside County Prosecutor Dan DeLimon refused to delve into the racial angle. "That will be addressed when the preliminary hearing continues on May 8," he said.

Written by BET.com Staff


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