Homicide sergeant talked to accused killer hours before slaying

Mikael D. Loyd

Mikael Loyd all but begged to be arrested.

He walked into Central Police Headquarters Aug. 8 and spoke to two Omaha police detectives. It was one day after an arrest warrant had been issued charging the 19-year-old with assault and battery of his girlfriend, Melissa K. Rodriguez.

The detectives became concerned about Loyd's mental state and had him placed in emergency protective custody at Lasting Hope Recovery Center, 415 S. 25th St.

On Aug. 12, Loyd called 911 from the mental health facility, saying he wanted to turn himself in on the warrant.

Police officers went to Lasting Hope, but staff members told them Loyd couldn't leave since he was still in protective custody, said Lt. Darci Tierney, a police spokeswoman.

On Aug. 14, Loyd was released — but police didn't arrest him.

That night, prosecutors say, he killed Rodriguez, 19, and dumped her body in a freshly dug grave.

“All of this could have been prevented,” said Deidra Loyd, Mikael Loyd's grandmother. “They had him right there in custody.”

She said her grandson has a history of mental health problems, including depression.

Mikael Loyd has been charged with first-degree murder. A judge on Tuesday granted prosecutors' request that he be held without bail in the Rodriguez slaying.

Prosecutors said Loyd told investigators that he and Rodriguez met Aug. 14 at Hitchcock Park, where the pair argued, made up and argued again.

He later strangled Rodriguez, prosecutors told the judge, because she reminded him of his mother — who, he told investigators, he blames for his father's 1995 death in a homicide.

A spokeswoman for Alegent Health, which oversees Lasting Hope, declined to comment, citing privacy laws.

Police issued a statement saying they continue to investigate why Loyd was not arrested, including whether officers asked Lasting Hope staff to notify them once Loyd was approved for release.

“Many questions have surfaced surrounding Mikael Loyd's warrant status and the timeline of events leading up to his arrest,” Tierney said. “We have been actively looking into the matter.”

Angie Rodriguez, Melissa's mother, said Tuesday she did not want her daughter to date Loyd because of his mental health and behavioral problems.

She said she was angry that Loyd was released from mental health treatment at a time when police had deemed him a threat.

“Since he had a warrant for his arrest, he shouldn't have been released,” Angie Rodriguez said.

Police took Loyd to Lasting Hope after he reportedly had threatened to kill his mother and was making erratic comments about how she was responsible for his father's death.

His father, Michael Loyd, 18, died in a gang-related shooting in Omaha in 1995.

Mikael Loyd had made threats over the phone to his mother, who lives in North Carolina, and reportedly to the detectives interviewing him.

Loyd told police that after he killed Rodriguez, he dragged her to the open grave at Graceland Park Cemetery, prosecutors said. Before dumping her in, they said, Loyd removed her underwear and took her cellphone.

He told investigators he tossed the phone in a dumpster near 24th and Leavenworth Streets. Officers found part of the phone, but not the underwear.

Police had been called to Rodriguez's home June 11 and told that Loyd had grabbed Rodriguez by her arms, where she had bruises, during an argument.

She also had bruises on her legs, but she did not indicate whether those were caused by Loyd, according to court documents. Rodriguez at the time told officers she was “fine” and did not want to press charges.

Both the Loyd and Rodriguez families had told the couple that they were better off apart because their relationship was rocky.

Loyd's aunt, who declined to be named, said “they wouldn't stay away from each other. She was fighting him, he was fighting her.”

World-Herald staff writer Alissa Skelton contributed to this report.

Timeline of events

Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013

Mikael Loyd initiated contact with two Omaha police detectives at Central Police Headquarters regarding an unrelated matter. During the conversation, detectives became concerned about statements Loyd made and decided to take action. Loyd had a misdemeanor arrest warrant, but due to his state of mind, police decided to place him into emergency protective custody at Lasting Hope.

Monday, Aug. 12, 2013

Mikael Loyd called 911 from the Lasting Hope facility wanting to turn himself in for a misdemeanor arrest warrant. Officers responded to Lasting Hope but after speaking to staff members were under the impression that Loyd was still under emergency protective custody so he could not leave.

Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013

Mikael Loyd was released from Lasting Hope and left the facility.

Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013

Melissa Rodriguez was found deceased at Graceland Cemetery located at 4720 S. 42nd St.

Friday, Aug. 16, 2013

Mikael Loyd was booked on suspicion of first-degree murder.

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