KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — Sheran Pearson said she’ll never forget the last conversation she had with her brother Maurice. It was late December when they ran into each other on Stadium Drive and hugged. They ended up chatting in her car for a while.
His nickname for her was Pumpkin.
“He said, ‘Pumpkin, I done learned so much in life,’” Pearson recalled. “He said, ‘You know I’m about to be 49 in a couple of days.’ I said, ‘I know, I know.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I just want to make it to 50.’”
She assured him that he will. Members in their families lived well into their 80s and 90s, she said.
They continued to talk and laugh, she remembered. Then a gospel song came on the radio that resonated with him.
“I won’t mention the artist, but the artist came on,” Pearson said. “He said, ‘See, that’s what I’m talking about.’ He said, ‘I just want to make it into heaven and I want to hear God say, "Well done."'”
Pearson said she believes that’s what God said to Maurice and his son Xavier on Monday, Jan. 10.
READ MORE: Man arrested after father and son stabbed to death in Portage
The Portage Police department said in an interview last week that on that day, both Maurice and Xavier were stabbed during an altercation at a home at Davis Creek Apartments on Meredith Street. A third person, identified as the suspect, was injured too.
All three were taken to the hospital where Maurice and Xavier were pronounced dead.
“My brother was 6’9". My brother would’ve never called his child in there to get hurt. My brother was not going in there to die or to fight,” Pearson said. “He knocked on the door. He didn’t kick the door in.”
Pearson said Xavier had the brightest smile. He loved to laugh, loved sports, and more than anything he loved his mother, father, and siblings.
“Their family, as all families go through, has ups and downs. But, they were a family through thick and thin until a demon walked into their life,” she said.
As for the suspect, he was taken to Kalamazoo County Jail after being at the hospital. A few days later, because the prosecutor's office had not brought charges against him, he was released, police said.
The family was shocked and devastated, Pearson said.
“If it’s circumstantial, you can hold them longer,” Pearson said. “And you don’t have no more circumstantial evidence to hold him longer than 48 hours than two dead bodies in the morgue.”
Pearson said she believes the suspect should’ve actually been arrested Saturday night.
Portage Director of Public Safety Nick Armold said in an interview with FOX 17 on Thursday, Jan. 13 that there was an altercation between the suspect and the sister of the woman who lived in the apartment at Davis Creek Apartments that night. Police were called and it was ultimately reported as a minor assault.
READ MORE: Suspect in Portage stabbings released from jail
“An assault is an assault. It can have an inch of an assault; you assaulted a woman,” Pearson said. “She’s a Black woman. If it was a Karen or Amy, we would be talking about a different story. Let’s not confuse the two. This is about race and about nothing else and a lack of humanity and care for African American men.”
Pearson said the family believes that race has been a factor in the case.
She also stated that the woman who lives in the apartment, her niece, is involved in a domestic-violent relationship with the suspect.
Director Armold said in the Jan. 13 interview with FOX 17 that police were once again called to the apartment on Sunday, by the suspect, when he reported to them that his tires had been slashed.
However, Pearson said she believes that everything could’ve been avoided had more been done Saturday night.
“If we would’ve got some justice Saturday, my brother and nephew would be alive,” she said. “That’s where the civil lawsuit will come in. Their civil rights were violated.”
Pearson said more could’ve been done to keep them alive. She added that they will be taking legal action against the authorities.
Director Armold said the case continues to be reviewed by the prosecutor's office.
“The last time we spoke, the case had been turned over to the prosecutor's office. That’s where it sits currently today,” Armold said during an interview with FOX 17 on Tuesday. “While that’s happening, there still are portions of the investigation that are being conducted by the police department. We served search warrants on various things while waiting for returns on those things.”
Director Armold said they put out warrants to obtain phone records, cell records and social media accounts.
He said he wants the family to know that they’ve been taking the case seriously since the incident happened.
“The Portage Department of Public Safety has put every single person they have on this case. We have from the minute we received the 911 calls until today,” Director Armold said. “Granted, people come and go because of other things happening. There’s detectives assigned to this case. Two detectives. They’ve been working day and night on that, and we feel comfortable with where we’re at. We feel comfortable with what we presented to the prosecutor's office. What happens moving forward rests with the prosecutor.”
FOX 17 reached out to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for Kalamazoo County who said first via email that police are conducting an additional investigation. They stated that on Thursday, Jan. 13 and again on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Around 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday the 18th, FOX 17 interviewed Prosecutor Jeff Getting about the case and where it stands and who’s reviewing it: the police or the prosecutor's office.
“I think that you can probably describe it as one, the other, or both in reality. The Portage Department of Public Safety had submitted the case for our review. We requested that they do an additional investigation in order to help us make a determination,” Getting said via Zoom. “Some people may describe that as we’ve sent it back to them for more work. Some people may describe it as it’s still at our office and we’ve asked them to do more work. I think the label is irrelevant. The place where the case is that after reviewing the initial investigation that we were provided we requested that additional information be gathered that will help us come to a decision in the matter.”
Getting said that in criminal cases they cannot hold someone past 48 hours or indefinitely while an investigation is going on. He said his office reviews cases every day of the year, including holidays, and one of the most important decisions they make, he said, is whether or not to charge someone with a crime.
Getting said he wants the family to know that they’re doing their jobs the right way and they take these matters seriously.
“We’re doing the best we can in order to make the best decision possible and not to make a decision based on only part of the information that may be available,” Getting said. “I think that the family and the community as a whole should be reassured that we’re doing our jobs the right way.”
FOX 17 also reached out to the victim's brother and son Hayden Snow. He provided this statement to the station:
“At this time the immediate family of the victims would like to acknowledge that first this has been very hard. We’d also like acknowledge that the fullest and honest truth of this heinous crime has not been told. While we cannot say much, we have come to the conclusion that the woman [name withheld] allegedly may have more to do with this murder than previous thought. This young woman has harassed the family on more than one occasion. We ask that because you see half the story on the news, that you not take in inaccurate information until said parties do a full investigation. While that is going on we ask that you give us time to heal and put out loved ones away.”
Pearson said that it’s been tough planning a funeral and looking at coffins. They never expected to do this.
She recently had a dream of her loved ones in heaven with her mother, she said. She took it to mean that they’re in good hands.
But, as for the family, they’re determined to bring them justice, she said.
“This is not justice,” Pearson said. “But I will say this, and I’m closing, justice is slow but God is for sure.”