A family is trying to make sense of a horrific crime after a 70-year-old grandmother was stabbed nearly three dozen times in her home. One of the people accused used to live with her.
Marise Barrett was killed hours after her family had celebrated her birthday and while her husband, who is legally blind and disabled, was sleeping in a nearby bedroom.
Family members say she was a woman who took in any child who needed help, babysat neighborhood kids for free and was known as Aunt Reecie. Her devastated family described her as their rock.
One of the teens accused of killing her is a young man she had been caring for since he was 5-months-old, a grandson who, at 16, had become increasingly difficult to control.
"It would've been a whole lot easier if it had been a stranger, a whole lot easier," the victim's husband, Vernon Barrett, said. "We had to let him go because he was stealing us blind. He was being disrespectful. I still love him even now. I can't do nothing about it."
The teen has been admitted to an area hospital for a mental evaluation, and juvenile authorities are filing charges. Authorities haven't released his age. Typically in these types of cases, adult charges are later filed.
On Tuesday, the teen's alleged accomplice was charged in Jackson County Circuit Court. Kevin J. Brewer, 17, faces second-degree murder and first-degree burglary charges in addition to and two counts of armed criminal action.
Brewer told police that he feared what his friend was going to do once they entered the home on East 33rd Street near Cypress Avenue, so he put on earphones to drown out the noise, according to court records.
According to court records, Brewer told police his friend picked Barrett's home because she had thrown "dog (urine)" on his mother in the past, and he was angry at her for that.
The boy has mental issues, including being diagnosed as bi-polar, and had recently stopped going to a counselor, the family said.
The boy's mother has been at a psychiatric hospital in recent weeks but checked herself out Tuesday, family members said.
The boy and Brewer broke a garage window and entered the house, court records state.
Brewer allegedly confessed that his friend took something from the kitchen drawer, then he disappeared into another room.
Brewer said they were there for several minutes before his friend came back, and they left the house together through the garage door with a cell phone, two MP3 players and a CD, according to court records.
Vernon Barrett found his wife's bloody body in her bed and called the authorities. She had been stabbed 32 times in her shoulder and neck, court records state. Marise Barrett was confined to a wheelchair due to polio at age four.
Marise Barrett's family discovered her iPhone had been taken and was able to access the account, which showed it was being used. Authorities went to Brewer's school Monday afternoon and found him with Barrett's smartphone, according to court records.
The family said the boy left with his mother around the holidays after a disagreement. He reportedly told Brewer that some of the items he took from the home were his.
Both youth were residents at a downtown organization that serves the homeless. After allegedly killing Barrett, they returned to the shelter, court records state.
While there, the juvenile asked for a bandage for his arm that he had cut during the break-in and later called 911 to be taken to the psychiatric unit at Research Hospital, according to court documents.
Prosecutors requested a cash bond of $250,000 for Brewer.
A prayer service will be held for Marise Barrett at 6 p.m. Wednesday near the family's home. Marise Barrett's family and friends, as well as the AdHoc Group Against Crime, will hold the service. The community is welcome to attend.
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