Omaha cemetery homicide suspect sought arrest

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A man suspected of killing his girlfriend and dumping her body in an open grave had tried to turn himself in on other charges days before her death, police said.

A timeline released late Tuesday by police says Mikael Loyd, 19, went to Omaha Police headquarters on Aug. 8 and talked to two detectives. Loyd had a misdemeanor warrant accusing him of assaulting his girlfriend, 19-year-old Melissa Rodriguez. But the detectives became concerned when Loyd “made concerning statements that led the detectives to believe he was mentally ill and dangerous,” according to a news release from police on Wednesday.

The threatening statements were directed toward someone living out of state, and no threats were made toward Rodriguez, police said.

The detectives placed Loyd into emergency protective custody at a mental health assessment center in Omaha.

On Aug. 12, Loyd called 911 from the center wanting to turn himself in for the misdemeanor warrant. Officers responded, but left after speaking to staff and believing that Loyd was still under emergency protective custody and could not leave the center. Police said Wednesday that the officers asked staff at the center to notify police when Loyd was to be released from treatment.

On Aug. 14, according to the police timeline, Loyd was released from the center and killed Rodriguez that night.

“At this time, there is no record the Omaha Police Department was made aware that Mikael Loyd was being released from treatment,” the release said.

A spokeswoman for Alegent Health, which oversees the mental health assessment center, declined to comment Wednesday.

Loyd is being held without bail on a charge of first-degree murder in Rodriguez’s death. During a court hearing Tuesday, prosecutors said the two met at Hitchcock Park in southeast Omaha, where they argued, made up and argued some more. Loyd strangled Rodriguez, prosecutors said, took her cellphone and dumped her in the grave at Graceland Park Cemetery. Her body was found the next morning by cemetery workers.

The grave had been intended for another homicide victim, Kevin McIntyre, 28, who was slain Aug. 4.

Prosecutors also said Loyd told detectives that he’d killed Rodriguez because she reminded him of his mother.

Loyd faces a preliminary hearing on Sept. 10.

Loyd’s grandmother, Deidra Loyd, told the Omaha World-Herald that her grandson has a history of mental health problems, including depression.

“All of this could have been prevented,” she told the newspaper. “They had him right there in custody.”

Police said they are continuing to investigate why Loyd was not arrested after being released from the mental assessment center.

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