SUDDEN DEATH

Filed under FLORIDA, FRONT PAGE, NATIONAL, NEWS

An argument over rent. A knife. A gun. Two murders, one suicide, one critical injury – and a network of grief-stricken relatives and friends.

BY PENNY DICKERSON
FLORIDA COURIER

DAYTONA BEACH – The initial Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD) homicide report clinically describes a horrific scene devoid of descriptive details.

Bethune-Cookman University students reflect on the lives of schoolmates killed in an off-campus shooting last week. (DUANE C. FERNANDEZ, SR./HARDNOTTS PHOTOGRAPHY)

Bethune-Cookman University students reflect on the lives of schoolmates killed in an off-campus shooting last week.
(DUANE C. FERNANDEZ, SR./HARDNOTTS PHOTOGRAPHY)

“On September 17, 2015…officers from DBPD responded to 124 Carolina Lake Drive (#105) in reference to a black male fighting a female…Upon arrival…officers entered and located a black female (Timesha Floyd-Carswell DOB 10/21/1993) deceased in the front bedroom closet with apparent gunshot wounds. The officers also located a second victim who was deceased (Diona McDonald DOB 2/2/1996)…found in the back bedroom.

“Officers found a third victim, Micah Parham, with gunshot wounds…alive but bleeding severely.

Officers then located a fourth victim, Sidney Washington DOB 06/06/1995, who was found outside of the apartment. Washington was not shot, but had minor injuries.

“While on scene and being treated by medical personnel, Micah Parham informed (DBPD detectives) that ‘Cory’ or ‘Kroy’ shot him as well as the deceased females…”

‘Cory’ or ‘Kroy’ turned out to be a 27-year-old Miami-Dade native with a long and violent criminal past named York Zed Bodden. Right after the shootings, Bodden returned to his old stomping grounds in North Miami, was apprehended by cops, and then allegedly killed himself in a Miami-Dade jail system that is notorious for not preventing inmate suicides – all in the space of about 48 hours.

The details
Here’s part of what the reports don’t say.

150925_front01bThe two young women, both Bethune-Cookman University students, had rented an off-campus apartment which may have been sublet to Bodden, who refused to pay then refused to leave the apartment. The two female students asked two male B-CU students to be in attendance when the discussion about the rent occurred.

According to Washington – the only survivor who could tell the story – Carswell and Bodden started arguing in the back bedroom about rent. The two male students, Washington and Parham, intervened as the argument got worse.

Washington and Bodden started fighting; Washington pulled out a knife. Bodden left the apartment and returned with a gun. The two struggled over the gun; Bodden won the struggle. Washington, realizing that Bodden would shoot him, smashed out a bedroom window, jumped out, and literally ran for his life. He heard gunshots as he ran.

150925_front01cBodden executed the young women with single shots to their heads. Parham survived a gunshot to his head – losing an eye – and was in critical condition in a medically induced coma at the Florida Courier’s Wednesday night press time. Washington suffered minor injuries.

The catalyst for all this? Two hundred dollars Bodden allegedly owed Carswell and McDonald for past-due rent.

Case still open
Though Bodden is dead, DBPD detectives continue to work on the case and consider it an open investigation. A warrant was served in Miami on Tuesday to inspect the vehicle in which Bodden fled to Miami.

Autopsies were performed by the Volusia County Health Department the day after the murders, but written reports have not been released.

DBPD refuses to answer many questions because the investigation is ongoing.

‘America’s future’
“Every one of those (B-CU) students were good young men and good young women who’ve never been in trouble with the law,” said DBPD Chief Michael Chitwood.

“They were good students and well-respected at Cookman, so that’s what makes this really difficult. These are kids who had a brilliant future. These are kids who would be the future of what America is all about,” he added.

Three Michiganders
McDonald was a Detroit native while Carswell and Parham are both from Inkster, a neighboring suburb.

Both women were preceded in death by a parent who succumbed to cancer. McDonald’s mother died of breast cancer just months ago. She is survived by an elderly father who reportedly said that Bodden has taken everything from him. Carswell’s father died of cancer when she was three.

Carswell and McDonald were music majors at B-CU and also active members of B-CU’s well-regarded Concert Chorale. They had been residents at the apartment complex for only two weeks.

Chitwood marveled when he saw how meticulous McDonald maintained the car she drove and the efficient manner in which her books and notes were left stacked on the back seat.

Classmates described the talented pair as “kindhearted.” Family members from Michigan sitting vigil at Daytona Beach’s Halifax Hospital describe Parham as “a fighter.”

Campus housing woes
One question: why did the two B-CU students move off campus?

Daytona Beach is a destination for thousands of students attending B-CU, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Daytona State College.

Many students initially reside in on-campus dormitories, but the allure to dwell in an off-campus apartment is intense. Students grow weary of restrictive rules and lackluster meal plans.

Ebony Harris of Greenville, S.C. is a B-CU freshman living in the dormitories. She is eager to make a transition and plans to move off campus next year.

“The (dorm) halls here are not everything we pay for. We spend $24,000 per year for tuition and board and the standards don’t live up to the amount we are paying,” said Harris.

“There’s mold growing in the halls and bathroom and they’ve gotten somebody out here to clean it, but it’s still growing back and they can’t control the air conditioning. One room would be too hot and the other too cold, and it’s just too much,” added Harris who is a political science and pre-law major.

Regretting the move
DBPD Chief Chitwood knows about the off-campus lure first-hand.

“I can tell you that my daughter is a senior in college and she has been breaking my stones with, ‘Please, can I live off campus? Please, can I live off campus?’” said Chitwood.

“Well, her senior year, I let her live off campus and after what happened the other day, I’m regretting every minute because like any girl, they meet a sweet-talking, good-looking guy, who’s got a little bit of money, and they don’t think he’s the picture of evil. They see this nice guy, but when the switch goes off, it’s too late.”

‘Uncle Ira J’
The Florida Courier spoke with Ira Johnson, Carswell’s ‘uncle’ and pastor.  Biologically, Johnson is a cousin. But his family raised her after cancer claimed her father’s life.

She always called him “Uncle Ira J” and the entire family affectionately called her “Lisa.” Johnson likes to share a particularly special story about his niece, whom he said was uplifting with a ready smile.

“Two years ago, I preached the funeral of her granddad, Joe Carswell. Lisa was his heart because she was younger; you know how grandparents like to dote on a child,” Johnson shared.

“Everybody held her close because she was all we had left of her father Tim. She was his only child and looked just like him. I flew from Detroit to preach that funeral and was so emotional.

“At the repast, I was in tears and she came up to me, hugged me and Lisa said, ‘Uncle Ira J, it’s gonna be alright. He’s in a better place now.’ She is the only one whose spirit did that.”

According to Johnson, other relatives in Georgia received the call regarding the murders. They called Johnson in Michigan the same night.

“The first thing we did was pray and thanked God for the life he gave us,” Johnson recalled.

Suicide to be investigated
Miami-Dade County operates the eighth largest jail system in the country, with about 6,000 people incarcerated in six detention facilities at any given time.

The Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, where Bodden was found dead, “has 1300 beds for male and female inmates of various levels of custody. Officers work inside housing units and directly supervise inmates 24 hours a day,” according to the county’s website.

According to the Miami Herald, the Miami-Dade County jail system has been under federal supervision since a 2011 U.S. Department of Justice investigation criticized it for inmate deaths and shoddy medical conditions.

At least eight inmates had committed suicide since 2007, and the federal report said that staffers were not trained to deal with suicidal patients. Three of the suicides involved accused murderers like Bodden who hung themselves with bed sheets in either the county’s main jail or at a county detention center.

Miami-Dade Department of Corrections spokeswoman Janelle Hall said, “There’s a full-fledged investigation going on” regarding Bodden’s alleged suicide.

As of the Florida Courier’s press time Wednesday night, Timesha Carswell’s family had raised $5,186 online from 174 donors to assist in paying funeral expenses. To donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/ry4gc33g.

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