Stella Daniels hasn't been able to heal since her son was shot dead and his pregnant girlfriend was stabbed to death six months ago. But now the Houston woman has a sense of relief knowing that her son's cousin has been indicted and arrested for the crime.
Cornelius Milan Harper, 23, of Houston was booked into the Fort Bend County jail Thursday on a charge of capital murder for the slayings of his cousin, his cousin's pregnant girlfriend and their unborn son last year.
A Feb. 7 indictment handed down by a Fort Bend County grand jury accuses Harper of killing his cousin, Yancey Daniels, 30, Daniels' girlfriend, Leiah Catherine Jackson, 27, who was eight and a half months pregnant, and the couple's unborn son.
"It gives me relief," said Stella Daniels of Harper's indictment and arrest. "But it can't bring my son back and my daughter-in-law and grandbaby — it can't bring them back. I do feel relief that (Harper) is in jail."
The slain woman's older brother, Christopher Jackson, previously told the Houston Chroniclethat the suspect had been asking for money. Missouri City police would not confirm that motive Thursday.
Leiah Jackson was confronted by her killer at her home in the 3300 block of Palm Desert in Missouri City around 1 a.m. Sept. 26. Jackson, a nurse's aide at a Missouri City elementary school, was stabbed more than 20 times outside the residence on her porch and driveway, sources close to the case said. The killer used a butcher knife.
Jackson, who lived in a fourplex, made her way from her garage, along the driveway and to the front door of her mother's nearby residence, leaving a trail of blood along the way, and banged on her mother's door for help, relatives said. She identified her attacker to her mother, saying he was one of Daniels' relatives, family members said. She was still alive when a medical helicopter flew her to a hospital, where she died.
Other charges dismissed
A passer-by found the body of Yancey Daniels later that same morning in southwest Houston. He had been shot to death and was lying under some bushes at an apartment complex in the 6300 block of West Airport. Authorities aren't sure how he ended up there.
Harper, who is now being held in lieu of $250,000 bail, was arrested the day after the slayings on unrelated charges of marijuana possession and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
Houston police at that time said he was a "person of interest" in Daniels' slaying. Harper also was later charged in October with criminal mischief causing damages between $1,500 and $20,000.
Harper remained in the Harris County Jail until he was transferred Thursday to the Fort Bend County Jail. The unrelated charges against him were dismissed.
Missouri City police said they haven't determined if Harper knew Jackson or had any romantic interest in her.
"She was a very, very beautiful, nice young lady," said Detective Russell Terry, a spokesman for the Missouri City Police Department.
Daniels, a Web project manager who worked with computer software, "was a very hard-working man, doing a lot for himself."
Aunt 'trying to heal'
Houston Police Department homicide detectives, who investigated Daniels' slaying because his body was found in their jurisdiction, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Harper was working on getting his masseuse's license when the killings occurred, said sources close to the case.
Daniels' mother said she is angry with Harper and has never had a chance to ask him why the three victims were killed.
"Anybody would be angry about that," Stella Daniels said of the slayings. "I can't even fathom a person doing that. Someone is insane, crazy or on drugs? That's the only way I can think somebody can do something like that.
"I'm still trying to heal, and I just can't do it at this moment, I know I cannot," she said.