A mother was found bludgeoned to death and her four-year-old daughter beaten unconscious nearly 12 hours after she called 911 pleading for help.
Mackenzie Hopkins, 24, called authorities to report a disturbance at her Kansas City, Missouri, home at 6.01am on Saturday, with the operator later telling detectives they heard people fighting.
It was only when Ms Hopkins’ father requested a welfare check at her home near East 73rd St and Wabash Avenue just before 6pm that first responders discovered her body submerged in a bathtub, and her young daughter in a bed with “severe blunt force trauma to her head”.
The young girl, whose name has not been released, was taken to hospital where family say she remains in a critical condition.
Police revealed they found large pools of blood in the living room of the house and drag marks where it appeared the victim’s body had been moved.
According to a police affidavit, when investigators went to interview one of Ms Hopkins’ friends at her home the day after the attacks they noticed a pair of Ariat men’s cowboy boots that matched bloody prints found at the scene.
The unnamed friend told investigators the boots belonged to her boyfriend, Jose Escalante-Corchado, who was charged with several crimes including first-degree murder on Tuesday.
Escalante-Corchado, 24 of Kansas City, Kansas, has denied all of the charges.
A law enforcement source told The Independent that police had responded to Ms Hopkins’ earlier call, but could not offer any details on why it took 12 hours to locate her and her child.
According to charging documents, detectives located surveillance video from a neighbouring property of a man running away from Ms Hopkins’ home and getting into a white truck one minute after Ms Hopkins made the 911 call.
The truck is seen pulling into a Shell gas station several minutes later and a Hispanic man with black hair, and wearing a dark coloured hooded sweatshirt, dark coloured coveralls, and a blue medical mask enters the store.
Surveillance footage shows the truck leave the gas station at 6.22am on 15 January. At 6.48am, the unknown male reappears entering Ms Hopkins’ home, before leaving again two hours later.
When presented with the surveillance footage Escalante-Corchado admitted he had been at the Shell gas station that day and it was him on the tape, according to court documents.
He told detectives he had been at a bar at the 7th St Casino until 3am on the morning of the murder and had “made a few turns” in his truck before returning home.
He told police he knew Ms Hopkins and her daughter, and helped them move into their apartment two months earlier.
“Escalante denied any involvement in the murder of the victim and assault on her daughter but had no reasonable explanation for being in the area of the victim’s house in his truck for over 2 hours,” detectives said.
He is being held without bail on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree assault, two counts of armed criminal action and first-degree endangering the welfare of a child. Under Missouri state law, prosecutors could seek the death penalty against him.
Ms Hopkins’ heartbroken family said they were struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.
“It’s just shocking to everybody. I don’t think anybody wants to believe these things can happen, especially to somebody and affecting somebody you know,” Michelle Bishop, Ms Hopkins’ aunt, told Fox2Now.
In a GoFundme page set up to help raise money for funeral and medical expenses, her sister in law Shawna Hopkins said: “Mackenzie was so loved by many. She was an incredible sister, daughter, friend, and mother.
“Her only wish would be for her sweet little girl to recover as quickly as possible.”
Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Mike Mansur told The Independent he was unable to comment beyond what was in the charging documents.