Evidence and interrogation led to confessions in boy's disappearance, brutal murder, detectives say

Evidence and interrogation led to confessions in boy’s disappearance, brutal murder, detectives say

(As originally published with additional photos, Wed, November 1st 2023, 9:10 PM EDT)

MILWAUKEE (TND) — A little boy reported missing last Wednesday was found dead with severe injuries in a dumpster, the next day. Now, a man and a teenager who live in makeshift bedrooms in the same multi-story home are facing criminal charges.

Court documents say the mother of 5-year-old Prince McCree last saw her son in the morning. He was sick, so she kept him home from school and he “wanted to go into the basement of the residence to play video games.”

Police searched inside and then asked the public for help finding him.

They said Prince’s mother thought the boy was playing video games in the basement with 27-year-old David Pietura, so she went back to sleep.

She woke up at 1 p.m., borrowed the homeowner’s car to get food, and unknowingly took the other suspect — 15-year-old Erik Mendoza, who’s charged as an adult — with her. Mendoza is the homeowner’s younger son.

The mother returned and checked the basement but the lights were off and nobody was there.

”A detective arrived, searched the basement and “observed blood on the cement floor near carpet runners. Defendant Pietura, who was in the basement at the time, immediately attempted to adjust the carpet runners in an attempt to cover the blood on the cement floor. Defendant Pietura claimed that he and Defendant Mendoza were roughhousing earlier resulting in Defendant Pietura suffering a bloody nose.”

Then, in the portion of the basement that’s Pietura’s bedroom, the detective “observed more suspected blood on a white comforter covering a chair, as well as on a blanket that was used as a divider between Defendant Pietura’s room and the rest of the basement. [The detective] immediately had all occupants of the residence moved into the living room until additional detectives could arrive on scene.”

”Most days, Defendant Pietura plays video games in the basement portion of the residence,” the arrest report said. It said he went for a walk with Mendoza but he “could not recall where.”

Police said he permitted them to check his phone and it turned out, “Pietura was never near Jacobus Park,” where he said he was that day. Later, GPS coordinates placed him a block from where Prince’s remains were found.

Then, another detective noticed “a large amount of blood on Defendant Pietura’s right leg. Defendant Pietura was subsequently placed under arrest for obstruction.”

Overnight, authorities executed a search warrant with Jake, a Bavarian Mountain Dog from the K9 unit.

“Jake alerted to the odor of decomposition at the base of the basement stairs where three sweatshirts were hanging from the back of a door. Of note, one of the sweatshirts is consistent with the sweatshirt worn by Defendant Pietura while carrying the garbage bag containing the boy’s remains.”

They also found several bloodstains in Pietura’s bedroom, and Pietura started talking.

”Pietura disclosed that Defendant Mendoza used a golf club to strike [Prince] multiple times,” and the club was found.

Two other pieces of evidence: an empty roll of duct tape consistent with a roll found at the scene and clear packing tape “consistent with the tape used to hold the gag rags in place in [Prince]’s mouth.”

Also, “a black-handled butterfly knife” that Mendoza, who reportedly “committed multiple stabbings in the past confirmed was the knife he used in each stabbing.”

Finally, Pietura was interviewed and after 45 minutes, when a detective asked “Pietura to be honest, to which Defendant Pietura responded, ‘it wasn’t me,’ followed by ‘I didn’t want any of this’ and ‘I loved that kid.’ Defendant Pietura said his first instinct was to cover for Defendant Mendoza.”

He said the body was in a dumpster outside a bar and that “Mendoza was choking [Prince] in the basement Pietura walked in and observed Defendant Mendoza choking and beating” Prince.

“After choking [Prince], Defendant Mendoza took a golf club and began striking [Prince]’s head and body with the golf club. [Prince]’s blood was all over the carpet in Defendant Pietura’s room. Defendant Mendoza attempted to move [Prince]’s body into the hallway.

”Defendant Pietura instructed Defendant Mendoza to get garbage bags. The Defendants jointly bound [Prince]’s arms and legs with tape “so it would be easy to put him in” the garbage bags. Defendant Pietura admitted it was his idea to bind [Prince]’s body with duct tape and gag [Prince]’s mouth with rags before wrapping the body in garbage bags.

“The Defendants took [Prince]’s body, bound inside multiple garbage bags, and walked to a dumpster where they discarded [Prince]’s body. The Defendants made sure the garbage bags containing [Prince]’s body were covered by other garbage inside the dumpster. Upon returning to the residence, Defendant Mendoza cleaned the scene by using soap water and a rag to clean the blood off the basement floor.”

Evidence and interrogation led to confessions in boy's disappearance, brutal murder, detectives say
Prince McCree, 5, disappeared and David Pietura, who he knew, was charged, along with a teenager. (Milwaukee Police Dept. file; Milwaukee Co. Sheriff’s Office)

”[Prince]’s body was blood soaked, bound, and gagged in the fetal position.”

The arrest report also mentioned surveillance video showing Mendoza and Pietura.

“Defendant Pietura is carrying a large white garbage bag with both arms cradled underneath the garbage bag and its contents,” it said.

That was enough to get teenager Mendoza arrested.

The arrest report said he “denied hurting [Prince] in any way,” but then detectives revealed they found the boy’s body, without mentioning where or the severe injuries.

Mendoza continued to deny everything.

Then, detectives mentioned the video and “Mendoza said, ‘Show me.’”

“He was given a screenshot, admitted it showed him, and then “claimed that inside the garbage bag was ‘garbage’ and nothing more. Defendant Mendoza continued to claim, ‘I don’t know where he [Prince] went.’”

Eventually, Mendoza admitted, “I strangled him,” as well as “stabbing three separate victims within minutes during the evening,” Monday, Oct. 23.

Both Mendoza and Pietura are charged with first-degree intentional homicide, repeated physical child abuse causing death, and hiding a corpse.

Pietura could face two life sentences plus 12-and-a-half years in prison, and a fine of $25,000.

Mendoza was charged as an adult, and he faces three additional counts of reckless use of a dangerous weapon endangering safety. He could face two life sentences plus 65 years in prison and a fine of $100,000.

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