The Macomb Daily
Man charged in woman’s gruesome death in fatal fire
An ex-boyfriend of a Roseville mother of two whose badly burned body was found in the her burning mobile home has been charged in connection with her death, authorities said Wednesday.
Robert Marcell Walton, 36, of Garden City, was arraigned in 39th District Court on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree arson. The murder charge is punishable by life in prison without parole, while the arson offense carries a penalty of up to life in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Walton is accused of strangling and stabbing Janisa Sumpter and then setting her home on fire Monday morning at Leslie’s Mobile Home Village on Gratiot Avenue, north of 10 Mile Road.
But a clear motive has not been established, according to Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido.
“Who knows what the motive was,” Lucido said. “That’s what a preliminary exam and trial are for, where we can ask questions and determine why he wanted this woman killed.”
Witnesses caught images on a home security camera reportedly showing Walton leaving Sumpter’s home with a trash bag of unknown items leaving the home moments before it erupted in flames.
“Investigators learned that Robert Walton arrived at Ms. Sumpter’s residence intending to murder her,” Roseville Deputy Police Chief Mitch Berlin said in a news release, adding that authorities “believe Ms. Sumpter was alive prior to Walton arriving and was murdered prior to the residence being set on fire.”
According to police, evidence obtained so far indicates Walton allegedly set fire to the mobile home in an attempt to cover up the murder. An autopsy conducted by the Macomb County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Sumpter’s death was a homicide caused by asphyxiation and numerous knife wounds.
Neighbors said Walton was an ex-boyfriend of Sumpter’s who had been seen in the mobile home park on an on-again, offagain basis for the past year. He has an extensive violent criminal background, according to police and prosecutors.
Firefighters were called to the mobile home park about 10 a.m. Monday to respond to a report of smoke and flames coming from Sumpter’s house. Her vehicle was parked in front of the residence, adding to the urgency, neighbors said. Fire crews quickly doused the flames and discovered the woman’s body.
Police used “numerous investigative techniques coupled with dogged perseverance” to find out what had happened.
According to the release, evidence indicates that Walton arrived at the residence about 8 a.m. and left around 9:50 a.m., just before the mobile home burst into flames.
The Roseville Police Department Criminal Investigations Division submitted warrant requests on Wednesday to the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, which authorized the charges.
Lucido, the county prosecutor, praised the work of Roseville police, who had made an arrest within 24 hours of the murder. He said he is disturbed about that case and a Macomb Township teen who allegedly made phone calls about a phony active shooter at Dakota High School earlier this week.
“The violent crime and act of terrorism that we’ve seen over the last week has caused a great deal of concern in the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement,” he said, adding the defendants can expect “zero” leniency from his office.
At a video arraignment in 39th District Court, Judge Joseph Boedeker ordered the suspect to be held without bond in the Macomb County Jail in Mount Clemens.
Meanwhile, friends and relatives of the 39-year-old victim have set a GoFundMe account and are collecting clothes and toys for Sumpter’s two children.
The daughter is 12 and takes a medium in woman sizes, 9½ shoe size, while the son is size 9 shoes and clothes 12-14. The items can be dropped off at 17503 Stephens Road, east of Gratiot, in Eastpointe 6-8 p.m. for the rest of the week.
Relatives have set up a GoFundMe account for monetary donations to the family. Donations may be made to https://bit.ly/2P8DVCY