The house on Janrick Avenue where Erica Wallace and her teenage daughter Kiara were killed last week by a domestic abuser now stands empty with an overgrown lawn and trashcans in the driveway.
Wallace’s surviving daughter hopes it will soon be something better: A shelter for abused women.
Less than a week after the bodies of her sister and mother were found inside, Marcella Lucas, 23, said Friday she is working to figure out a financial plan to convert the small yellow bungalow into a place that would provide safety for women like her family members.
“I want to do this because there are so many women out there who do end up dying because they have no place to go,” said Lucas.
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The Meadowview neighborhood where Wallace lived was the scene of a second such crime on the same day, police say – another in a string of deadly attacks on women and children by romantic partners in Sacramento in recent months. In that case, a woman and her two young children were severely beaten with a hammer. One of the children, an 8-year-old boy, has died. Police say an ex-boyfriend is to blame.
There were 118 domestic-violence-related homicides in California in 2015, according to a report from the California attorney general, representing about 10 percent of all murders in the state.
Lucas said she is a survivor of domestic abuse herself and understands how hard it can be to escape for women who feel trapped not just physically, but financially and emotionally as well.
For about four years, she was in an abusive relationship so bad that at times her abuser threatened her with a gun.
“I was just so used to him hitting me,” said Lucas. “By the grace of God I got out.”
Wallace and her 17-year-old developmentally disabled daughter Kiara did not. They were found dead in the bathtub on Sept. 1 by firefighters responding to an alarm. Sacramento police Chief Daniel Hahn said Friday that the suspect, live-in boyfriend Eric Dwan Arnold, had shot the two women and attempted to burn their bodies.
Police issued a warrant for Arnold, who was also using the name Dwan Hughley. Arnold was killed by police Thursday in a shootout that left two officers injured after a license plate camera located his car not far from the scene of the murders.
One of the officers in the shooting was released from the hospital on Thursday, said department spokeswoman Linda Matthew. The other remains in the hospital, Matthew said. Both received non-life-threatening injuries in the shooting.
A source close to Wallace said she had only recently become aware that Arnold was going by an alias after a “failure to appear” notice from a traffic ticket arrived at the house. Arnold had told her his name was Dwan Hughley, the source said.
Sacramento Superior Court records show that a man named Eric Dwan Arnold, also known as Dwan Huguley, faced charges of resisting arrest in 1998, which were later dismissed.
Arnold also had two previous domestic violence cases filed against him in Ohio in 2003 and 2004. One case was dismissed and in the other, Arnold pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Lucas said that she thinks Arnold may have been abusive to her mother prior to Friday’s shooting. Lucas said her sister expressed fear of Arnold, and said he was “weird.” She said her mother was planning on asking Arnold to move out.
On the Friday night of the double homicide, Lucas texted her mother to see if she could watch Lucas’ 6-year-old son, which Wallace often did, said Lucas. She received a text back that Wallace didn’t want the boy at her house because Arnold was “tripping.”
Lucas didn’t think much of it at the time, but the next morning her mother failed to send her normal texts. Lucas said she woke most days to a message that began, “Good morning, darling daughter and handsome grandson,” and included Bible quotes.
When that missive failed to arrive, she began to worry. She called Wallace’s cellphone and a stranger answered, a woman who said she had found the phone near John H. Still Middle School.
Lucas went to her mother’s home to find the street blocked off by police tape. A neighbor driving past the tape to return to his house was the one who told her a homicide had occurred, she said.
The Meadowview neighborhood was the scene of another deadly domestic violence attack earlier that day when a woman and her two children were beaten with a hammer at the 3000 block of Melinda Way.
Police say they believe the attack stemmed from an argument between the woman and a man, who were in a previous relationship. An 8-year-old boy hurt in the incident died on Wednesday, the Sacramento Police Department said.
The boy’s aunt, Latasha Brown, identified him as Donte Daniels and said he was declared brain dead but had not yet been taken off of life support machines as of Friday afternoon. The family is planning on donating his organs, she said.
Brown’s sister, Elizabeth Salone, 27, and Brown’s niece, Danae Daniels, 7, remained in the hospital on Friday. Danae is recovering from a broken finger, nose, fractures to her skull and chemical burns, Brown said.
On Friday afternoon, Salone underwent surgery to her eye socket and skull. Doctors have notified family that she may have permanent loss of vision from her injuries.
Police identified the suspect in that attack as Deandre Chaney Jr., 23. He was arrested in Winnemucca, Nev., a day after the attack.
Chaney was an on-again, off-again boyfriend of Salone’s and was not the father of any of her children, Brown said. She said her Salone told her Chaney attacked her after he refused to give him money.
Brown said Salone also has a 3-year-old boy who was at the home at the time of the assault but who was not hurt. She worked as in-home support worker for her aunt, who is disabled, and has lived in Sacramento all her life. Brown described her sister as patient mother who was family-oriented.
“We’ve got to heal our sister,” Brown said. “We’ve never been through this before but we’re going to learn together.”
Investigators with the Sacramento Police Department tracked Chaney to the area after learning he was aboard a train headed to Utah, said department spokeswoman Linda Matthew. On Friday, before the arrest, Winnemucca police tried to intercept him during a train stop in the town, but he fled. Authorities set up a perimeter and searched through the night, locating Chaney early Saturday in a neighborhood lawn.
Matthew said Chaney was a known person to Sacramento police officers and had a lengthy criminal history. Online Sacramento Superior Court records show 11 cases in his name since 2011, including a case stemming from the hammer attack.
In October 2016, Chaney pleaded no contest to a charge of failing to register as a sex offender, the records show. He also pleaded no contest to a felony battery with serious bodily injury charge in April 2014.
Salone gave no indication to family members that Chaney was ever violent toward her, Brown said.
“We try to get the best people around our kids and sometimes we don’t make the right judgment of someone,” Brown said. “She just happened to give the wrong person a chance.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the victims. Brown remembered her nephew as a sweet boy who had “the shelter of love.”
“We couldn’t discipline him,” Brown said. “We had to give him hugs and kisses.”