To protect and serve their own: Secrets of police failures before abused woman’s murder are revealed

Written by on December 16, 2021

WARNING: This investigation consists of graphic descriptions of home violence.

Jo’Anna Chicken was driving previous a cemetery on Lengthy Island when she turned to her mom and mentioned matter-of-factly: That is the place I will be buried quickly. 

The 24-year-old single mom had little question her ex-boyfriend was going to kill her. He’d informed her he would do it — in letters, in cellphone calls and whereas he punched her, pulled her hair and left her bruised, damaged and terrified. She had known as the police for assist a number of occasions, however they’d did not cease him. She was resigned to the concept that they by no means would.

And for good motive. Even after he was arrested for kidnapping her at gunpoint and attempting to stuff her into the trunk of a automobile, an assault that landed her within the hospital, Leonardo Valdez Cruz by no means stayed locked up for lengthy. 

Lower than two months after that incident, he tortured Chicken and stabbed her to demise.  

Valdez Cruz was convicted and sentenced to life in jail. However a key query about Chicken’s 2009 homicide has continued: How and why had Lengthy Island’s Nassau County Police Division failed so utterly to guard her? 

Jo'Anna Bird is shown with her children, Joanna and Leonardo, in this family photo. Bird was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009.
Jo’Anna Chicken is proven together with her youngsters, Joanna and Leonardo, on this household photograph. Chicken was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009.
Chicken household photograph

The solutions have been mentioned to be contained in a damning inner affairs investigation that targeted on almost two dozen cops. However the report was locked down tight. Not many outdoors the police division had seen it, and people who had weren’t allowed to debate it. For greater than a decade — with assistance from judges, the county legal professional’s workplace and legislation enforcement’s pervasive tradition of silence — police have averted public scrutiny by retaining their investigative findings hidden, even after Nassau County paid $7.7 million in tax {dollars} to settle a civil swimsuit filed by Chicken’s household.

The secrecy ends now. 

The interior affairs investigation, revealed right here for the primary time, and new reporting in regards to the case present that officers displayed a callous indifference to the hazard Chicken confronted. In a sequence of missed alternatives over a number of months, a number of officers failed to hunt out and arrest Valdez Cruz for violating Chicken’s order of safety and didn’t do the essential police work required when answering home violence calls, reminiscent of asking individuals on the scene for identification and filling out routine paperwork.

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As well as, the investigation confirms that Valdez Cruz offered data on unsolved crimes to then-Detective Jeffrey Raymond. The detective returned Valdez Cruz’s cellphone whereas he was in custody, and Valdez Cruz used it to name Chicken dozens of occasions from inside a police precinct. The information present Raymond then misled a supervisor so Valdez Cruz — a violent gang member who had violated a restraining order — may very well be launched on a desk look ticket, a easy order to return to courtroom often reserved for low-level offenders. 

Raymond additionally failed to look at a courtroom listening to after he arrested Valdez Cruz for trying to kidnap Chicken. Raymond Cote, then the commanding officer of the Third Precinct, mentioned in a latest interview that he had given Raymond a message to ship to the prosecutor earlier than the listening to: “In the event you let this man out, he’ll kill her.”

Cote was proper.

Raymond declined to be interviewed for this story. He has since been promoted to detective sergeant accountable for the housebreaking unit, the place information present he earned $281,036 in 2020.

This photo of Jeffrey Raymond of the Nassau County Police Department is included in an internal affairs report regarding officers' interactions with Jo'Anna Bird and her killer, Leonardo Valdez Cruz.
This photograph of Jeffrey Raymond of the Nassau County Police Division is included in an inner affairs report relating to officers’ interactions with Jo’Anna Chicken and her killer, Leonardo Valdez Cruz.
Nassau County Police Division

Chicken’s demise is greater than a cautionary story of how police generally mishandle home violence, notably when the sufferer, like Chicken, is Black and residing in a low-income neighborhood. It is also a case examine of the blue wall of silence — the unofficial code inside legislation enforcement that cops should cowl for one another to maintain misdeeds secret from the general public and from outdoors entities with the ability to carry them accountable. When police adhere to the code, as they did in Chicken’s case, they’ll belief in a system constructed to guard legislation enforcement from repercussions. Not one of many officers who failed Chicken was fired, suspended or demoted on account of her demise.

Earlier this 12 months, USA TODAY found paperwork detailing the interior affairs investigation into the Chicken case amongst a cache of public information obtained by a consortium that features New York newspapers owned by USA TODAY’s guardian firm and MuckRock, a collaborative nonprofit transparency group. The Nassau County District Lawyer’s workplace offered the doc — which stays sealed by a decide’s order — in response to a wide-ranging information request that did not particularly point out the Chicken case. 

USA TODAY then partnered with Newsday, the largest newspaper on Lengthy Island, to report this story. Newsday journalists have for years been denied entry to the investigative paperwork regardless of repeated information requests and authorized challenges, together with an ongoing lawsuit in Nassau County courtroom. 

By retaining the data secret, police officers have been capable of assemble their very own public narrative of what occurred to Chicken.

The police commissioner on the time, Lawrence Mulvey, informed reporters in 2009 that the mishandling of Chicken’s case was “an remoted, unlucky prevalence” and that seven officers confronted self-discipline. Each statements have been false, the newly obtained information present. Fourteen officers have been discovered to have violated division guidelines, together with two who confirmed comparable carelessness relating to a home name at a unique house the identical night time they did not totally examine a criticism towards Valdez Cruz. 

Sources aware of the interior investigation and the following administrative self-discipline towards officers mentioned probably the most extreme penalty handed down was a lack of 24 days of sick and trip time. Prime commanders suffered no penalties. 5 of the officers disciplined for mishandling the case have since been promoted, together with Raymond, who misplaced 4 hours of trip pay, the sources mentioned. Two of them now serve on the police union’s board. 

In an emailed response to reporters’ questions, Mulvey mentioned he needed to mete out extra extreme self-discipline and had negotiated a four-month suspension for Raymond, however his plans have been blocked by political stress. Edward Mangano, a longtime native legislator who was elected county government in November 2009, needed to keep up his relationship with the highly effective police union and questioned the self-discipline Mulvey needed to impose, the previous commissioner mentioned.

The union “thought the self-discipline I had in thoughts was too harsh, and behind the scenes they’d Mangano’s ear,” Mulvey wrote. “I knew what was occurring, and it hastened my retirement.”

Mangano, who was later convicted of bribery and fraud in an unrelated matter, declined to remark.

James Carver, the previous head of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Affiliation, denied negotiating self-discipline with Mangano.

Police and county officers have continued their combat to maintain the disciplinary information from the Chicken investigation secret even after New York lawmakers in 2020 repealed a state legislation that labeled police disciplinary information as confidential. The repeal got here shortly after revelations that Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis officer who killed George Floyd, had a protracted historical past of citizen complaints, together with half a dozen alleging extreme drive. 

Lawrence Mulvey, police commissioner on the time of Jo’Anna Chicken’s homicide
(The union) thought the self-discipline I had in thoughts was too harsh, and behind the scenes they’d Mangano’s ear. I knew what was occurring, and it hastened my retirement.

Present police commissioner Patrick Ryder, who was appointed in 2018, refused to launch the Chicken file or verify the particular self-discipline imposed upon the officers concerned. Ryder additionally declined to be interviewed for this story. 

He issued a three-sentence written assertion that known as the division’s inner investigation “intensive.” It additionally mentioned: “Because of that investigation, a number of officers have been penalized with lack of pay, have been retrained and transferred. The Division additionally reviewed and revised its current insurance policies relating to home incidents and created and applied new procedures to additional improve these insurance policies to implement the legislation and shield our victims.”

Chicken’s family even have been denied entry to the information, which have been required to be turned over to their legal professional as a part of their 2010 lawsuit towards Nassau County and its police division. A federal Justice of the Peace ordered the lawyer to maintain the paperwork confidential.

Sharon Dorsett, Jo’Anna Chicken ’s mom
I really feel that me being her mom and every thing she went by way of, and we went by way of, I had the proper to see it, as her mom, to know what was in it. I by no means came upon what occurred to any of the those who have been concerned.

In latest interviews, Chicken’s relations mentioned they’d been assured throughout settlement negotiations that the interior affairs report can be made public. They’re disillusioned, they mentioned, that it by no means occurred. Even they’d no information of its contents till reporters contacted them for this story.

The truth that police have efficiently stored their misconduct secret for thus lengthy has added to the ache of shedding her daughter, mentioned Chicken’s mom, Sharon Dorsett.

Dorsett, who’s elevating Chicken’s two youngsters, mentioned she would not like being in her home alone. These quiet moments give her an excessive amount of time to consider the horrors her daughter endured. 

“I really feel that me being her mom and every thing she went by way of, and we went by way of, I had the proper to see it, as her mom, to know what was in it,” Dorsett mentioned of the interior affairs report. “I by no means came upon what occurred to any of the those who have been concerned.”

Love turns to violence

Chicken’s Lengthy Island expertise wasn’t the place millionaire Jay Gatsby pined for Daisy within the F. Scott Fitzgerald basic or the place celebrities reminiscent of Beyoncé and Robert De Niro have owned palatial properties. Her household, which included her mom, stepfather and eight siblings, generally acquired public help. They lived in leases in New Cassel and Westbury, racially various neighborhoods the place poverty charges vary from about 7% to 11%.

Chicken was a senior at Westbury Excessive College when she received pregnant in 2002. The infant’s father did not desire a little one, her household mentioned. He joined the army and left city. However Chicken did not quit on her future. She labored at BJ’s Wholesale Membership and deliberate to go to vocational college so she might land a greater job.

Chicken met Valdez Cruz within the months earlier than the child was born. He first noticed her at a nook retailer together with her brothers and adopted them house, Valdez Cruz mentioned in an interview from jail. He stored displaying up on the household’s home, and although he claimed to be there to see Chicken’s brothers, he usually introduced sweet, teddy bears and flowers for her.

It’s unclear how a lot Chicken knew about Valdez Cruz’s violent methods. However police have been nicely conscious. 

Leonardo “Pito” Valdez Cruz is shown at Green Haven maximum security prison in upstate New York during an interview with Newsday. Valdez Cruz is serving a life sentence for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Jo'Anna Bird.
Leonardo “Pito” Valdez Cruz is proven at Inexperienced Haven most safety jail in upstate New York throughout an interview with Newsday. Valdez Cruz is serving a life sentence for the homicide of his ex-girlfriend, Jo’Anna Chicken.
Jeffrey Basinger

Valdez Cruz, a highschool dropout and a member of the Bloods road gang, was first arrested at 12 for pointing a BB gun on the heads of two elementary college youngsters and threatening to kill them. By the point he met Chicken 5 years later, his felony historical past included assault, theft and drug dealing.

However Valdez Cruz promised Chicken he would at all times deal with her. When she gave delivery to a daughter in March 2003, he was together with her on the hospital. 

“All Jo’Anna needed was someone to like her and respect her and stand by her,” mentioned her sister Sharon Chicken, “simply as a lot as she did for them.”

Jo’Anna Chicken and Valdez Cruz had a son collectively in 2005. That is when issues modified between them. As a substitute of doting on her, he adopted Chicken to work. He shocked her with a Taser, tied her to an residence radiator and choked her till she handed out, then took her cellphone aside to cease her from calling for assist.

From 2005 to 2008, Chicken or her household known as the police on Valdez Cruz at the very least 9 occasions, police and courtroom information present.

She wasn’t his solely sufferer. In 2007, Valdez Cruz, then 22, yanked an 11-year-old boy off his bicycle in an unprovoked assault. Valdez Cruz slammed the boy to the bottom and punched him till two witnesses intervened.

“Anyone laced my smoke with PCP,” Valdez Cruz informed police, in response to information from the time of the arrest. 

Whereas he was in jail, Chicken noticed an opportunity to get away, her sister Melissa Johnson mentioned. She discovered an residence in Westbury and tried to maintain its deal with secret from him. However Valdez Cruz discovered her as quickly as he was launched in 2008. Inside months, Chicken known as police twice, as soon as after he pulled her hair and once more when he punched her.

Officers didn’t arrest him on account of both incident. Inside affairs information don’t establish the officers or clarify why they did not take Valdez Cruz into custody underneath New York’s necessary arrest legislation, which requires officers to make an arrest when there’s possible trigger to consider {that a} crime has been dedicated or an order of safety has been violated.

Sharon Chicken, Jo’Anna Chicken’s sister
“All Jo’Anna  needed was someone to like her and respect her and stand by her. Simply as a lot as she did for them.”

Chicken was determined to maintain Valdez Cruz away from her and the youngsters, her mom mentioned, so she went to courtroom to acquire an order of safety, additionally known as a restraining order. It barred Valdez Cruz from contacting her or coming close to her. If he did, police have been presupposed to arrest him instantly. 

The order did not change something. Valdez Cruz continued to terrorize Chicken, and the police nonetheless did not take his threats critically. Officers known as him by his nickname, Pito, her household mentioned, and sometimes handled his presence like a joke, telling him to go away or take a stroll as an alternative of arresting him.

In June 2008, Valdez Cruz broke into Chicken’s house whereas she was out and barricaded himself inside. Police arrested him for housebreaking, and he was sentenced to eight months in jail.

Whereas he was locked up, Valdez Cruz threatened Chicken in letters and cellphone calls, saying he would slash her face and “flip to the one factor I do know and that is violence.” Each time he contacted her constituted a violation of the protecting order and will have yielded its personal misdemeanor cost. Jail cellphone calls are recorded and would have been proof sufficient even when Chicken had declined to cooperate. However no such costs have been filed.

Leonardo Valdez Cruz wrote many threatening letters to Jo'Anna Bird from jail, including this one.
Leonardo Valdez Cruz wrote many threatening letters to Jo’Anna Chicken from jail, together with this one.
Nassau County Supreme Courtroom

By August 2008, Chicken appeared to know Valdez Cruz would kill her sooner or later.

“I do not belong to anybody, and I definitely do not belong to you,” she informed him on a recorded jail name. “I do not wish to be with you. So, you are going to kill me, no matter. Deliver it on. I am drained. I do not wish to be with you. So simply end it.”

She hid his letters at the back of a closet and informed her sister the place to search out them, in order that they may very well be used as proof towards him when he did. 

An attempted kidnapping 

In accordance with the interior affairs information, Valdez Cruz tried to kidnap Chicken on Jan. 25, 2009.

Valdez Cruz broke into Chicken’s home and hid behind the sofa, confronting her when she arrived that night. He demanded she give him a journey, and he or she agreed out of worry. Chicken drove Valdez Cruz to an intersection a few mile from her house, the place he instructed her to park. 

He pulled a pair of gloves and a gun from a silver bag, telling Chicken, “This s— goes to finish in the present day.” 

Valdez Cruz dragged Chicken out of the automobile by the hair and compelled her at gunpoint to open the trunk. She refused to be intimidated, twice slamming it shut as an alternative of getting in as he demanded. The third time, he put down the gun and tried to shove her in. Chicken closed the trunk with the weapon inside and ran. Valdez Cruz shortly caught up, shoving Chicken to the bottom and shutting his arms round her neck.

Struggling for breath, Chicken tried to persuade Valdez Cruz she liked him so he would not kill her. He refused to let her go till she promised to stick with him. Then he made her drive house and adopted her inside.

The following morning, she dropped him off and went to see her mom. When Dorsett noticed her daughter’s bruised neck and uncooked, wounded leg, she took Chicken to the hospital. 

Jo'Anna Bird was living in this home on Long Island when her ex-boyfriend trapped her inside, tortured her and killed her in 2009.
Jo’Anna Chicken was residing on this house on Lengthy Island when her ex-boyfriend trapped her inside, tortured her and killed her in 2009.
Nassau County Police Division

Raymond was within the emergency room questioning Chicken when Valdez Cruz confirmed up, in response to an announcement the detective made to inner affairs. Valdez Cruz’s sister later mentioned he had been there to go to his sick nephew. Raymond acknowledged to inner investigators that he didn’t confirm the story with the hospital. The detective arrested Valdez Cruz for the tried kidnapping and for violating the restraining order in a earlier incident.

Chicken gave police a five-page affidavit in regards to the kidnapping. 

“We knew she was afraid of him and if she testified towards him, he would harm her,” mentioned Cote, the retired commander. “That is why we received all these particulars in that assertion, to guard her so she would not must go to courtroom initially.”

With Valdez Cruz in custody, the Nassau County District Lawyer’s Workplace had as much as six days to safe an indictment from a grand jury or persuade a decide there was possible trigger to consider Valdez Cruz had tried to kidnap Chicken.

She can be required to testify both means, in response to Joseph LaRocca, the previous assistant district legal professional who dealt with the case. However there was a essential distinction: Earlier than a grand jury, she would testify in secret. At a preliminary listening to earlier than a decide, she must testify in open courtroom, and Valdez Cruz can be there.

The selection belonged to Valdez Cruz. He was assured Chicken would not come ahead and insisted on the listening to, LaRocca mentioned.

As a result of Chicken did not seem in courtroom and the district legal professional’s workplace had no proof Valdez Cruz was stopping her from being there, LaRocca mentioned he was compelled to order Valdez Cruz’s launch. The fees remained pending.

“The one proof was her,” LaRocca mentioned. “She gave the assertion describing it. There have been no witnesses. The defendant by no means confessed or made an announcement. There was no video or digicam. And when she would not come ahead, that is why, by legislation, he was launched.”

Raymond additionally did not present up for the listening to. 

In his assertion to inner affairs, Raymond claimed he informed a supervisor he can be in New Jersey the morning of the 9 o’clock listening to and due to this fact unavailable. He mentioned he could not keep in mind which supervisor he spoke with and nobody adopted up.  

Raymond additionally informed inner investigators he later known as Chicken, who informed him she did not plan to return to courtroom. He mentioned he supplied to maneuver her to a secure home or to present her a police division panic alarm, however she declined each.

Chicken was afraid of what Valdez Cruz would possibly do if she left, in response to her sister Johnson.

He stored telling her “if he could not discover her, if he could not get to her, that he would kill someone near her,” Johnson mentioned. “So she felt, ‘If I depart, if I disappear, he’ll harm considered one of my relations … and it may be my fault.'”

Police didn't keep him in jail 

Within the week main as much as Chicken’s homicide, police handed up a number of alternatives to place Valdez Cruz in jail and preserve him there.

Officers Christopher Acquilino and Steven Zimmer responded to 3 calls about Valdez Cruz violating Chicken’s order of safety within the early morning hours of March 15, 2009. They need to have arrested him on account of at the very least a type of calls, inner affairs investigators concluded.

Two days later, Valdez Cruz was arrested for driving and not using a license after he made an unlawful U-turn whereas driving Chicken’s automobile. However at Raymond’s request, police let him go after only a few hours. 

In accordance with the interior affairs information, Officer Anthony Gabrielli, who made the arrest, drove Valdez Cruz to the precinct with out impounding the automobile, as required. As soon as there, Gabrielli and Officer Thomas Roche searched Valdez Cruz and confiscated his cellphone.

On the drive to the station, Valdez Cruz had requested to talk with Raymond. Precinct cameras confirmed the 2 talked in a cell for 25 minutes. Valdez Cruz gave Raymond a number of ideas, together with one which Chicken’s brother Jonathan had robbed a pizzeria.

In accordance with Raymond’s assertion, Valdez Cruz mentioned his mom had simply gotten out of the hospital and he did not need her to know he was in jail. Raymond mentioned he returned Valdez Cruz’s cellphone so he might name his mother and sister to maintain up that ruse.

Sharon Dorsett, Jo’Anna Chicken’s mom
She was screaming, ‘Mommy, assist me! Assist me!” Dorsett recalled in an interview. “‘Pito is in the home. I can’t get out! He has me locked in. He has me trapped. Mommy, assist! Please assist me, Mommy.’

Whereas in custody, Valdez Cruz known as Chicken 46 occasions, each a violation of the order of safety. He additionally answered 10 calls from her and made 24 different calls. 

The choice to launch Valdez Cruz was the duty of Sgt. Kenneth Ward, who mentioned Raymond requested him to do it.

Raymond denied that however admitted he failed to inform Ward that Valdez Cruz had a historical past of home violence towards the proprietor of the automobile he had been driving. Raymond additionally did not inform Ward of Valdez Cruz’s felony report or point out he had been arrested in January for kidnapping Chicken. Raymond informed inner affairs he did not suppose it was related.

Ward did not independently examine Valdez Cruz’s background.

At round 10 p.m., Ward gave Valdez Cruz a ticket to look in courtroom and launched him. Raymond gave him a journey again to Chicken’s automobile, warned him to not drive it and watched him stroll away. 

Inside affairs investigators concluded that Gabrielli, Roche, Raymond and Ward had violated division guidelines of their dealing with of the state of affairs.

About 45 minutes after Raymond dropped off Valdez Cruz, Chicken’s household known as 911 to report that he was at her mom’s home in violation of the restraining order. He was knocking on the entrance door when Officers Christopher Jata and Jason Contino arrived. They spoke with Chicken and Valdez Cruz, each of whom mentioned he was there to see her mom and did not know Chicken can be there.

Based mostly on that data, the officers did not arrest Valdez Cruz as a result of they did not suppose he knowingly violated the order of safety, the interior affairs report says. They broke division guidelines by failing “to conduct an entire and thorough investigation of this home incident,” failing to provide any written report and failing to arrest Valdez Cruz, inner investigators concluded.

Lower than 48 hours later, on March 19, 2009, Dorsett acquired a frantic cellphone name from Chicken. “She was screaming, ‘Mommy, assist me! Assist me!'” Dorsett recalled in an interview. “‘Pito is in the home! I can not get out! He has me locked in. He has me trapped. Mommy, assist! Please assist me, Mommy.'”

Within the background, Dorsett heard Valdez Cruz say: “You be lifeless earlier than your mom or the police get right here.”

Then the decision dropped.

Police found the body of Jo'Anna Bird at the bottom of this stairway in March 2009. Her killer, ex-boyfriend Leonardo Valdez Cruz, escaped out a back window on the second floor.
Police discovered the physique of Jo’Anna Chicken on the backside of this stairway in March 2009. Her killer, ex-boyfriend Leonardo Valdez Cruz, escaped out a again window on the second ground.
Nassau County Police Division
'Ought to be ashamed'

Solely a tightly managed circle of individuals outdoors the Nassau County Police Division knew simply how essential its officers’ negligence had been in permitting Valdez Cruz’s conduct to escalate main as much as Chicken’s ultimate name for assist.

Two males who noticed the interior affairs report a decade in the past tried to deliver the division’s failures to gentle, however they have been shortly shut down.

In 2011, a gaggle of Nassau County legislators insisted they be allowed to evaluate the report earlier than they’d approve paying a settlement to Chicken’s household. U.S. District Decide Arthur Spatt permitted them to learn the doc however ordered them to not reveal something they realized from it.

Peter Schmitt, then the county legislative majority chief, expressed his outrage to the media anyway.

“There are … law enforcement officials on this county … who should be ashamed to take a look at themselves within the mirror each morning after they rise up to shave, a lot much less be sporting the badge,” he mentioned after studying the report. “Orders of safety have been ignored. … Obligatory arrests have been known as for and never carried out, giving a cellphone to a prisoner when he was behind bars and permitting him to name the sufferer 35 to 40 occasions, and on and on and on.”

The police union sought sanctions towards Schmitt. After a 2012 courtroom listening to, a part of which was closed to the general public, Schmitt was held in contempt and fined $2,500. He died later that 12 months.

The Chicken household’s legal professional, Frederick Ok. Brewington, acquired a replica of the interior affairs report as a part of the invention course of within the civil case. He scheduled a information convention, full with a whiteboard displaying images of the disciplined officers. When county officers came upon, their attorneys went to courtroom, the place a federal Justice of the Peace forbid Brewington from sharing the doc or any of the knowledge in it.

As a result of he’s nonetheless sure by a courtroom order to maintain the doc secret, Brewington remained reluctant to debate it for this story. However he did have one thing to say about the truth that police, courts and county officers have stored the information hid for thus lengthy.

“That is the horrible element of this,” he mentioned, “that you just consider that it is OK to reside in secrecy when, certainly, lives are at stake.”

Jo'Anna Bird's family visits her grave at the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury on Oct. 1, 2021.
Jo’Anna Chicken’s household visits her grave on the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury on Oct. 1, 2021.
Jeffrey Basinger, senior multimedia producer, Newsday
'He's going to kill my daughter'

Chicken’s screams and her ex-boyfriend’s threats echoed within the minds of her mom and sister after her ultimate name disconnected. Dorsett and Johnson jumped into the automobile, reaching Chicken’s home in lower than 5 minutes by operating each cease signal. Chicken’s sister dialed 911 as her mom pounded on the door, screaming, “Jo’Anna, it is Mommy! Open the door! Come to the door, Jo’Anna! Please come to the door! It is Mommy!”

There was no reply. 

Police arrived inside minutes and surrounded the home however did not go in. They banged on the door and known as Chicken’s cellphone.

No response.

Dorsett and Johnson mentioned they begged police to interrupt down the door, however the officers would not.

“They mentioned, ‘It is protocol. It is protocol,'” Dorsett mentioned. “None of them took it severe. They have been laughing. They have been cracking jokes. And I am saying, ‘He’ll kill my daughter.'”

Johnson known as her father, who rushed out of labor to Chicken’s home. He deliberate to kick within the door himself, however the police would not let him close to it and threatened to arrest him if he tried, Chicken’s household mentioned.

In response to the household’s civil swimsuit, division officers denied that anybody made gentle of the state of affairs or threatened to arrest Johnson’s father.

Valdez Cruz’s sister was additionally standing outdoors. An officer noticed Johnson pointing at her as she talked on her cellphone, bent over as if she have been going to vomit. 

“You bought to inform me what is going on on,” the officer mentioned.

“She’s in the home, and he or she’s now not alive,” the sister replied.

Police burst in, however Valdez Cruz was gone. He’d escaped out the again, undetected.

Officers discovered Chicken’s physique on the steps resulting in the second ground. She had been stabbed so many occasions, the medical expert could not depend all of them.

Home violence sources

If you’re a sufferer of home violence, the Nationwide Home Violence Hotline lets you communicate confidentially with skilled advocates on-line or on the cellphone, which they advocate for individuals who suppose their on-line exercise is being monitored by their abuser (800-799-7233). They can assist survivors develop a plan to realize security for themselves and their youngsters.

Protected Horizon’s hotline gives disaster counseling, security planning, and help discovering shelters: 800-621-HOPE (4673). It has a chat characteristic the place you possibly can attain out for assist from a pc or cellphone confidentially. 

Survivors can name the New York Metropolis Anti-Violence Venture’s 24/7 English/Spanish hotline at 212-714-1141 and get help. If calling will not be secure, however e mail is feasible, make a report at and depart secure contact data, and somebody will attain out.

Gina Barton is a reporter on USA TODAY’s investigative staff. Contact Gina at, @writerbarton.

Sandra Peddie is a reporter on Newsday’s investigative staff. She will be reached at, or (631) 843-3549.

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