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2 charged with killing 5-year-old boy found in Milwaukee dumpster

The graphic story of how a 5-year-old boy ended up dead in a dumpster has been released, and two people have now been charged with the crime.
2 charged with killing 5-year-old boy found in Milwaukee dumpster
Posted at 4:41 PM, Nov 01, 2023

Learning a 5-year-old boy was found in a dumpster was troubling enough, but the horrific details about how he got there from over a mile away are enough to turn even those with the thickest skin.

The headlines from last week were upsetting to every single person. Again, in the city of Milwaukee, a child was murdered. And again, as is the case all too often in the city of Milwaukee, that victim was African American.

"It should not be that hard to say, 'Black lives matter,'" Jeff Sweetland said.

Sweetland and a smattering of other like-minded folks camp out on the four corners of Hawley Road and Vliet Street almost every single day. They have done it for about 3 1/2 years, after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. But last week, when they heard the news about Prince McCree, it was a shock to them to see Black life come to an end just feet from where they stand in solidarity with the cause meant to protect it.

"It was a gut punch," Sweetland said.

"We're all close to this corner, and we of course knew about this horrible tragedy," Linda Sealey said.

"I can just imagine the anguish these parents are feeling," Joan Janus said. "I feel it too."

SEE MORE: Body of missing Milwaukee child found in dumpster, police say

Two people have been charged in connection with the death of Prince McCree, a 5-year-old from Milwaukee who was found dead in a dumpster last week. 

David E. Pietura, 27, and Erik J. Mendoza, 15, were both charged Monday with first-degree intentional homicide, among other charges. 

Scripps News does not normally name minors who are accused of crimes but has chosen to do so in this case due to the seriousness of the allegations and the fact that Mendoza is not being charged as a minor.

Online court records show a cash bond was set at $500,000 for Pietura on Tuesday. Mendoza is in children's court, and proceedings are shrouded by the judge's order.

According to the criminal complaint, Prince lived in a home near 54th and Meinecke with nine other people, including Pietura and Mendoza. Pietura told police Prince's parents always sleep, which results in Pietura feeling obligated to watch and entertain him.

The last time Prince's mother saw him, he was going to the basement to play video games with Pietura.

While in the basement, Pietura says he saw Mendoza strangling Prince. Then, the two took turns beating the child, then put his body into garbage bags. 

As the two carried Prince to a dumpster near Hawley Road and Vliet Streets, Pietura says they continued to beat Prince with a variety of different objects until he was dead.

Surveillance footage captured Mendoza and Pietura carrying the garbage bag near the dumpster and then returning without it.

Mendoza allegedly had homicidal intentions in the past, and acted upon them. According to the criminal complaint, Mendoza admitted to committing multiple stabbings just two days before killing Prince.

On Oct. 23, Mendoza admitted to three stabbings within a 30-minute period in the Sherman Park Neighborhood, between roughly 6:52 p.m. and 7:27 p.m.

Mendoza told police he was bored and went outside to stab people. He told police he felt a rush from stabbing each victim but felt bad after doing it. When asked what he would say to those he stabbed, Mendoza told police, "I'm sorry, but you are alive."

After admitting to participating in the killing and disposal of Prince's body, Pietura told police, "Mendoza has talked for some time about wanting to kill someone" and that Mendoza "never liked [Prince] and discussed wanting to kill [him]."

Pietura was charged with homicide, physical abuse of a child causing death and hiding a corpse. Mendoza was charged with homicide, physical abuse of a child causing death, hiding a corpse and three separate counts of recklessly endangering safety.

If convicted of all charges, Pietura and Mendoza both face life in prison. There is no death penalty in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee Police reported Prince missing last Wednesday. The next day, he was found dead in a dumpster near 55th and Vliet, according to police.

Alderman Michael Murphy represents the 10th District where Prince's body was discovered. He visited the location where the boy's body was found on Friday to pay his respects.

"I think, like most of us, we're heartbroken," Murphy said. "A beautiful little baby tragically lost his life. And the manner in which he was placed just struck a chord with me that this is a special human being and being placed in a trash bin, it hurt a lot."

A relative of Prince says the family is remembering a lovable little boy as they take the next steps to lay him to rest.

"He was your typical 5-year-old, the sweetest little boy, always laughing, rambunctious," a family spokesperson said. "He loved his sister and brother a lot. He loved superheroes. Our entire family is feeling angry. [Prince's mother] has a lot of emotions right now. She is just devastated by this."

Prince's mother has read the details of the investigation, and the spokesperson told Scripps News Milwaukee she called them "horrifying."

According to the spokesperson, Prince's family has moved out of the home where all of this happened. Mendoza's mother owns the house. 

The family plans to hold a vigil and funeral for Prince at some point, but as new details continue to emerge, it's getting harder for them to grieve.

You can support the Prince McCree GoFundMe campaign here.

This story was originally published by Shaun Gallagher at Scripps News Milwaukee. 

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