A former assistant principal has been charged with killing a teacher who worked with him at a South Florida high school.
Ernest Joseph Roberts, 39, was arrested on June 14. He faces multiple charges in the murder of Kameela Russell, a 41-year-old test administrator at Miami Norland Senior High School.
Roberts and Russell knew each other since they were children, according to an arrest warrant obtained by The Miami Herald. They were co-workers at Miami Norland Senior High School for years until he was transferred in February, according to The Miami Herald.
They were also neighbors who lived down the street from each other in Miami Gardens, Florida. Roberts was the godfather of Russell's two daughters - ages 6 and 15.
Russell's teenage daughter, Skye, called police to report her mom missing on May 15. Skye said her mother left home to pick up her sister at her aunt's house, and never returned or called to say she would be late.
On May 25th, a neighbor spotted a decomposing body in a canal near Northwest 207th Street and Northwest 15th Avenue, about a block from her aunt's house and not far from Roberts' house.
Miami-Dade underwater recovery officers pulled the body from the water. Neighbors who watched the recovery effort told Local 10 News that the body was wrapped in a plastic bag.
The body was so badly decomposed that it was impossible to tell whether it was a man or a woman. An autopsy determined the victim died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Investigators caught a lucky break when a co-worker at Linda Lentin K-8 Center called police to say Roberts called him on May 20 and "directed [him] to go to a specific file cabinet inside of conference room 908," according to the warrant.
Inside the cabinet was a set of car keys to an Audi and a note directing the co-worker to find someone who could "chop up a car" and "make it disappear."
The note gave directions to the car located "behind the speedway racetrack on 441 by County line." Roberts allegedly wrote: "Friends are gone and need it to disappear. If not leave it + I'll work it out later. Throw this note away!"
During the phone conversation, Roberts allegedly told the co-worker that he "did something crazy," after confronting an intruder inside his mother's house. Roberts said he hit the intruder with a baseball bat, killing him, and wrapped up his body in a tarp. He said he left blood stains on the floor as he dragged the body through the house. Roberts allegedly asked if the co-worker knew how to get rid of blood stains.
After hanging up the phone, the co-worker promptly called 911 and turned the note over to police.
Roberts allegedly mentioned "the vehicle referenced in the handwritten note" in a call police secretly taped between the co-worker and Roberts.
Police swarmed Roberts' home, bringing in K9 officers and drones. The search of the home uncovered evidence of a crime scene cleanup.
"The smell of bleach was prevalent throughout the residence" according to the warrant. "Detectives were also able to locate a mop in the residence which had a strong smell of bleach and came back positive for the presence of blood as indicated by luminol."
Blood found inside the home matched the DNA of Russell, according to the arrest warrant. Investigators also found a pair of bloody sandals and an Amazon box splattered with blood.
In addition to the note and DNA evidence, police also obtained surveillance video footage that captured Russell arriving at Roberts' home in her black Audi 54 around 6 p.m. on the day she disappeared.
The footage allegedly shows Roberts exiting his home, entering Russell's Audi and parking it close to the front door of his home.
"At no time is [Russell] ever seen exiting [Roberts'] residence," the warrant states.
Roberts is later seen driving off in the Audi by himself and returning home on foot.
Police have not confirmed reports that Russell was pregnant with Roberts' baby.
In a Facebook post that was dated the day before she disappeared, Russell criticized restrictive anti-abortion laws that were recently passed in multiple states.
"We are going backwards. Help me understand. If a woman has a miscarriage and it is believed that she is the cause, she can be charged with 2nd degree murder. How can this be proven? ... When will blacks become fully realized human beings with rights? Marching with vagina hats and walking hand in hand singing spirituals is not enough. We need more will power to change things. Thinking out loud."