Federal prosecutors accuse Michigan man of strangling missing 2-year-old

Jul 7, 2023, 1:51 PM

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 U.S. attorney’s office in Grand Rapids charged 26-year-old Rashad Trice with kidnapping a minor and kidnapping resulting in death in connection with Wynter Cole Smith’s disappearance, adding to a litany of state charges that include attempted murder and fleeing police.

“There is probable cause to believe (Smith) was murdered by Trice and left in the alley, where her body was discovered,” FBI Special Agent Christopher Rodolico wrote in the complaint.

Trice would face mandatory life in a federal prison and could get the death penalty if he’s convicted of kidnapping resulting in death. He would face 20 years to life if convicted of kidnapping a minor. Online court records in the federal case listed Sharon Turek as his federal public defender. She declined to comment Friday.

Trice got into an argument with his 22-year-old ex-girlfriend at her Lansing apartment the night of July 2, according to the federal complaint. The ex-girlfriend, who is not identified in the complaint, said she stabbed Trice in self-defense. Trice responded by stabbing her multiple times and sexually assaulted her, she told investigators.

Trice left, and the woman went to her mother’s apartment in the same complex, leaving her 1-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter, Wynter Cole Smith, behind. Responding police couldn’t find Smith.

Investigators determined that Trice had stolen a car and issued an Amber Alert for Smith. Police located the car early the next morning in St. Clair Shores, a Detroit suburb. The driver, later identified as Trice, fled and crashed into a police vehicle. He then tried to disarm an officer and was arrested. Smith wasn’t in the vehicle.

Trice initially told investigators that he last saw the girl at his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. Police reviewed cellphone data that showed Trice traveling from Lansing to Detroit, which led them to a Detroit alley on Wednesday where they found Smith’s body and a pink cellphone cord they believe was used to strangle the girl. They also found portions of a pink cellphone cord in the stolen car.

Trice told police that he and Smith’s mother had been arguing about money and said they stabbed each other. He said he was aware of the Amber Alert, called himself “a monster” and said he wanted to kill himself.

“The allegations in this case are heart-wrenching,” said Mark Totten, the U.S. attorney in Grand Rapids. “My thoughts are very much with Wynter’s family, as we were all praying for her safe return home.”

Trice was scheduled to appear in federal court in Grand Rapids on Tuesday for a detention hearing.

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Federal prosecutors accuse Michigan man of strangling missing 2-year-old