TROY, Mich. (AP) – One of two people accused in the fatal
shooting of a hotel employee and wounding of a guest tied up the
employee before shooting her execution style, a prosecutor said
yesterday.

Holiday Inn night clerk Michelle Eberhard, 35, of Wayne County’s
Redford Township was bound and shot in the back of the head early
Tuesday, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Shareen Lynch said.
Robbery appeared to be the motive.

Thomas Ralph Jackson, 24, and Shirley Ann Haywood, 36, both of
Detroit, were arraigned yesterday on charges of one count each of
first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter and armed
robbery. First-degree murder carries a mandatory penalty of life in
prison, without the possibility of parole.

Jackson was a former cook in the hotel’s restaurant and was let
go about six months ago.

Prosecutors said the second victim, Rachel Joost, 28, of Cedar
Park, Texas, was shot in the face after she came in to register at
the hotel. She was traveling alone on business.

Before Joost arrived, Jackson left the hotel and returned to the
car where Haywood remained throughout the incident, Lynch said. He
is believed to have returned when he saw Joost enter the hotel.

Lynch said Joost was on the phone with her husband, a Cedar Park
police officer, when Jackson came back in.

County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said Joost begged for her life
before she was shot. He told WDIV-TV that she put up her hand,
which partially deflected the bullet that hit her face.

As Joost lay on the floor pretending to be dead, the man tried
to shoot again but the gun apparently did not fire, Gorcyca said.
He said the robbery netted about $500.

From a hiding place on the third floor, Joost phoned her
husband, told him to call police, then dialed 911 herself, Lynch
said. She said Joost was doing well.

Police said they arrested a third suspect who would be arraigned
tomorrow and were searching for a fourth.

“We’re asking for the public’s help … because we believe he’s
dangerous, very dangerous,” said Lt. Steve Zavislak, referring to
the fourth suspect.

Zavislak said the third suspect, also a male, was taken into
custody Wednesday evening. He declined to identify the man or say
whether he had surrendered to police.

A $10,000 reward was being offered by the hotel and Joost’s
employer for information leading to the capture of the fourth
suspect.

Police and prosecutors declined to discuss the planning of the
robbery and shooting or the role the other two suspects may have
played.

Lynch was unsure whether Jackson and Haywood were related,
saying only that Jackson referred to the woman as “Auntie.”

At the arraignment yesterday in 52-4 District Court, Jackson
also was charged with one count of assault with intent to commit
murder and three counts of felony firearm.

Both Jackson and Haywood restricted their answers to the judge’s
questions to either “Yes” or “No.” Innocent pleas were entered for
them and they were being held without bond. Their preliminary
hearing was set for Sept. 15.

 

 

 

 

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