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A Michigan man apparently strangled his ex-girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter with a cellphone cord and left her body in a Detroit alley, according to a federal complaint filed Friday.
The US Attorney’s Office in Grand Rapids has charged Rashad Trice, 26, with kidnapping of a minor and kidnapping causing death in connection with the disappearance of Winter Cole Smith, adding to a series of formal charges that include attempted murder and prison escape. police.
“There are probable grounds to believe that[Smith]was murdered by Trace and left in the driveway where her body was discovered,” FBI Special Agent Christopher Rodolico wrote in the complaint.
Trace will face a life sentence in federal prison and could be sentenced to death if convicted of kidnapping causing death. He faces 20 years to life if convicted of kidnapping a minor. Online court records in federal cases list Sharon Turek as a federal public defender. He declined to comment on Friday.
Trace got into an argument with his ex-girlfriend of 22 years at his apartment in Lansing on the night of July 2, according to the federal complaint. The ex-girlfriend, who was not identified in the complaint, said she stabbed Trace in self-defense. Trace responded by repeatedly stabbing and sexually assaulting her, she told investigators.
Trice left and the woman went to her mother’s apartment on the same complex, leaving her one-year-old son and two-year-old daughter Winter Cole Smith behind. Responding police were unable to find Smith.
The detectives determine that Trice stole a car and issue an Amber Alert for Smith. Police located the car early the next morning in St. Clair Shores, a suburb of Detroit. The driver, who was later identified as Trice, fled and crashed into a police car. Then he tried to disarm an officer and was arrested. Smith was not in the car.
Trace first told investigators that he last saw the girl at his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. Police reviewed cellphone data that showed Trace was traveling from Lansing to Detroit, which led them to an alley in Detroit on Wednesday where they found Smith’s body and a pink cellphone cord they said was used to strangle the girl. They also found fragments of a pink cell phone wire in the stolen vehicle.
Trace told police that he and Smith’s mother had a falling out over money and said they stabbed each other. He said he knew about Amber Alert, called himself a “monster” and said he wanted to kill himself.
“The allegations in this case are heartbreaking,” said Mark Toten, the US Attorney for Grand Rapids. “My thoughts are with the Winter family, as we all prayed for her safe return home.”
Trice was scheduled to appear in federal court in Grand Rapids on Tuesday for a hearing.
Smith’s father, Ajay Smith, of Detroit, is a wide receiver at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He told the Detroit News a story published on Friday that he learned of the kidnapping of the girl’s grandmother on Monday.
“At the time, I was in shock — like I couldn’t move because this isn’t a phone call you’d ever expect,” he told the paper. “I didn’t know what to do.”
He said his coach and the university helped him get home to Michigan that day. He described his daughter as “a very smart, wonderful and friendly girl”.
He said, “Her smile was so contagious. I don’t see how anyone could hate that.”