Thursday, December 26, 2002

3 arrested in slaying of 5 near Detroit

The Associated Press

LIVONIA, Mich. - Police arrested three suspects in the execution-style slayings of five family members during an apparent robbery at their suburban Detroit home.

Wayne County Prosecutor Mike Duggan was expected to decide today what charges to bring. He said he was "very confident that the Livonia police have the people that are responsible for these murders in custody."

Suburban Detroit jeweler Marco Pesce, 38; his mother, Maria Vergati, 68; and Mr. Pesce's three children, Melissa, 6, Sabrina, 9, and Carlo, 12, were gunned down in Mr. Pesce's home Saturday. Ms. Vergati was visiting from Italy.

Police said the slayings took place between 4 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Saturday. They said the house had been ransacked.

Police said a call from Carlo Pesce to his father at the family's jewelry store asking him to come home may have been prompted by the killers.

Marco Pesce owned Italia Jewelry and the strip mall in which the shop was located about two miles from his home.

He was divorced from the children's 36-year-old mother and cited her use of crack cocaine in court papers about custody of their children.

In January, a court gave him temporary custody of the children and ordered her to move out of their home because of her drug use.

Diane Pesce was in an Ann Arbor rehabilitation center on the day of the slayings and was visited by her ex-husband just hours before his death, said her father, Samuel Jameel.

Police said she had been questioned and was not a suspect.

Mr. Duggan and police Chief Peter Kunst said police first picked up two suspects in Detroit and later arrested a third in the Flint area.

"We've executed a number of search warrants and recovered key pieces of evidence," the chief said.

On Wednesday, police said no additional information was being released about the suspects or the case until at least Thursday because the investigation was ongoing.

The prosecutor's son attended school with Sabrina Pesce.

"I had to explain to my son that he had lost one of his classmates over the holidays," Duggan said.

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