Less than a week before Morgan Myers was stabbed to death in the Walmart parking lot, a judge ordered Michael Young to stay away from his former girlfriend.
Police have identified Young, 30 -- the man who fled into a nearby motel shortly after Myers was fatally stabbed Thursday afternoon -- as the suspect in the attack.
An autopsy was conducted Friday. The 30-year-old Rapid City mother of four was five weeks pregnant with her fifth child, Graves said.
Young also had worked at Walmart but recently had been fired.
Police officers and a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper were in the parking lot when the call came in at 3:18 p.m., Thrash said. “The timing was just amazing.”
“There were Good Samaritans everywhere. People just rushed in, in so many ways,” Thrash said.
Young was weilding a large kitchen knife, but it did not deter people from attempting to help, Thrash said. At least a dozen people ran to help Myers, he said.
“It was pretty awesome the way people helped,” he said.
A bystander began administering CPR to Myers, and a group of men reportedly chased Young from the scene and followed him through nearby parking lots.
“There was a combination of law enforcement and the public involved in the end of it,” Thrash said. “We’re still trying to sort things out.”
People’s willingness to help has been remarkable, the police captain said. Witnesses stayed to tell officers what they saw. Police were still receiving calls on Friday from people wanting to tell investigators what they saw.
“It was just so great for us to have that kind of response to help put this together, because there were a lot of eyes that saw what happened, and they’re willing to tell. It’s just awesome. It was amazing how the community wanted to help,” Thrash said.
Walmart has provided its security video from that corner of the parking lot, but the quality is very poor, Thrash said.
After fleeing the scene, Young reportedly used the same knife to stab himself several times while hiding behind a locked door in a pool-side restroom of the Days Inn, at 1570 N. La Crosse St. He was listed in critical condition at Rapid City Regional Hospital on Friday.
If his condition improves enough to be released from the hospital, he will be arrested and charged with first-degree murder, fetal homicide and violation of a protection order, Thrash said.
Young could face the death penalty, Pennington County State’s Attorney Glenn Brenner said at Friday’s news conference.
State law is very specific about the application of the death penalty in murder cases, and Myers’ death meets those legal qualifications, Brenner said. However, he hasn’t yet decided whether to pursue that avenue.
“The decision to seek it (death penalty) hasn’t been made yet,” he said.
A conviction for first-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence.
“This was a terribly, terribly tragic incident and situation,” Brenner said. “We are going to do what we can in holding him accountable once that time comes.”
According to Brenner, a temporary protection order was issued against Young on April 10; Myers was granted a permanent protection order April 20.
Myers had sought the protection order for herself and her children, none of whom were fathered by Young, Graves said.
There is speculation that Young was the father of Myers’ unborn child, but authorities are awaiting DNA tests to confirm paternity, Graves said.
Brenner said law enforcement had encountered Young before, but nothing hinted at the violence that occurred Thursday.
Young had a history of conflicts with another victim, including an earlier protection order violation, and a couple other charges, “but no domestic violence charge,” Brenner said.
Most of the time, protection orders are successful in discouraging contact, Brenner said.