Detroit man charged in rape, murder of girl, 5 - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Detroit man charged in rape, murder of girl, 5

Posted: Updated:
Darnell H. Cheatham, 22, during the Monday arraignment Darnell H. Cheatham, 22, during the Monday arraignment
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Prosecutors have filed charges against a Detroit man they say abducted, raped and killed, then burned the body of a 5-year-old girl.

Twenty-two-year-old Darnell H. Cheatham was arraigned Monday afternoon on charges of first-degree murder, torture, child abuse, arson and mutilation of a body.

A judge ordered him jailed without bail until his preliminary examination Nov. 1. It wasn't immediately known if Cheatham has a lawyer.

"He may be locked up but he's still breathing. See, that's the problem - he's still breathing. He should suffer just like my granddaughter suffered," Diane Henry tells Fox 2's Taryn Asher. Henry is Mariah's grandmother.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says Cheatham took Mariah Smith, the niece of his girlfriend at the time, from her Detroit home in July 2011. Authorities say the girl was strangled and her skull crushed before her body was set on fire on a mattress at a vacant house about a mile from her home. DNA tests revealed the charred body found on the mattress was that of Mariah.

Surveillance video at a nearby gas station captured Cheatham buying gas in a can. Police have been building their case the past two years and were able to arrest Cheatham on Friday. Cheatham was a person of interest at the beginning of the investigation, and police arrested him on a parole violation but did not have enough evidence to charge him in connection with this crime so he was released. Mariah's family tells Asher they have suspected Cheatham from the very beginning.

"I am so glad that they caught him and my grand baby can rest in peace," Henry says. Mariah's grandparents say they mourn her loss every day, but it's the other children in the family who seem to be hurting the most, especially those who were also inside the house the night Mariah disappeared.

"She asked me, since they got him is Mariah going to come back? I have to take her to therapy and see a psychiatrist every month. I try to hold back the tears but it just hurts. It just really hurts," Michael Williams, Mariah's step-grandfather, shares.

Henry also shares with Fox 2 that Mariah's brother later revealed he saw Cheatham allegedly take Mariah out of the home where she disappeared from.

First-degree murder carries a sentence of life imprisonment without parole. Cheatham is due back in court in November.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Duggan bringing big changes to Detroit water department, starting with shutoffs

    Duggan bringing big changes to Detroit water department, starting with shutoffs

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 8:51 PM EDT2014-07-30 00:51:24 GMT
    Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is promising big changes at the water department, starting with the controversial shutoffs."Certainly it has hurt the reputation of the city," Duggan said. "I have been anxious to do something about it for awhile and I am just glad I have a chance to do it,"Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr handed over the water department to the mayor and City Council TuesdayDuggan says better publicizing assitance programs is the biggest priority."I still don't think the people in need h...
    Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is promising big changes at the water department, starting with the controversial shutoffs."Certainly it has hurt the reputation of the city," Duggan said. "I have been anxious to do something about it for awhile and I am just glad I have a chance to do it,"Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr handed over the water department to the mayor and City Council TuesdayDuggan says better publicizing assitance programs is the biggest priority."I still don't think the people in need h...
  • Construction worker rescued from massive trench collapse

    Construction worker rescued from massive trench collapse

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 8:49 PM EDT2014-07-30 00:49:25 GMT
    Construction workers endured some terrifying minutes in a trench they were working at in West Bloomfield Tuesday afternoon."He was completely buried for upwards of three minutes," said Fire Chief Jay Wiseman.Employees of Daniel White Excavating were laying pipe in a trench -- about 100 feet long and 10 feet deep -- when suddenly , the dirt walls began collapsing on a 39-year-old co-worker and covered him."He actually started moving away from it, and an identical collapse occurred just in fron...
    Construction workers endured some terrifying minutes in a trench they were working at in West Bloomfield Tuesday afternoon."He was completely buried for upwards of three minutes," said Fire Chief Jay Wiseman.Employees of Daniel White Excavating were laying pipe in a trench -- about 100 feet long and 10 feet deep -- when suddenly , the dirt walls began collapsing on a 39-year-old co-worker and covered him."He actually started moving away from it, and an identical collapse occurred just in fron...
  • Michigan girl mauled by raccoon receives wave of support

    Michigan girl mauled by raccoon receives wave of support

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 8:26 PM EDT2014-07-30 00:26:29 GMT
    She told us all she wanted was to wear earrings -- and now she's got a lot of options. We'll show you how Charlotte is healing after surgery to replace her ear... and how you've made a difference. Her story includes a tragic accident, but also a tremendous outpouring of support. The 12-year-old girl from western Michigan who was attacked by a raccoon, shows us how the generosity of others is helping her heal. "This is all the jewelry people sent me," she said. Dozens of pairs of earrings and ...
    She told us all she wanted was to wear earrings -- and now she's got a lot of options. We'll show you how Charlotte is healing after surgery to replace her ear... and how you've made a difference. Her story includes a tragic accident, but also a tremendous outpouring of support. The 12-year-old girl from western Michigan who was attacked by a raccoon, shows us how the generosity of others is helping her heal. "This is all the jewelry people sent me," she said. Dozens of pairs of earrings and ...
  • Download the FOX 2 Apps


  • FOX 2 News Five-Day Forecast
Powered by WorldNow

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices