On October 25, 2023, Prince McCree went missing from his house. A day later, he was found gagged and bound in a dumpster. David Pietura and Erik Mendoza have been charged with murder.
Prince McCree,5, lived on the second floor of 2411 N. 54th Street, , Milwaukee, in Wisconsin, with his parents and 2 siblings. His mother, Jordan Barger, was friends with the homeowner, Michelle Mendoza. Michelle Mendoza lives on the first floor of the home, with her three children, Erik Mendoza, 15, and two other children who have not been identified. David Pietura, 27, occupied the basement of the home.
On October 25, 2023, Prince McCree, 5, stood home from school because of a sore throat and a cough. Early in the morning, Prince asked to use his mother’s phone, which she allowed.
Around 9:00a.m., Prince returned the phone to his mother. She assumed Prince went downstairs to play video games with David Pietura and went back to sleep. At 1:00p.m. she woke up and borrowed Michelle Mendoz’s car to go food shopping, taking E. Mendoza with her for the trip.
When Jordan arrived home, she went upstairs and woke her boyfriend up. Later, she then went to the basement to look for Prince. She turned the lights on to find the basement empty. Jordan went back upstairs and asked her boyfriend if he had seen Prince, which he said he had not. She then asked David, who was playing video games with one of Michelle’s children, if he had seen Prince. He denied seeing Prince all day.
Jordan then searched the entire home. Finding no signs of Prince, she drove around the neighborhood with her boyfriend and Michelle, looking for him.
Prince McCree is Reported Missing
After an unsuccessful search for Prince, Jordan called the police at 6:03p.m. to report him missing. The police then searched the home multiple times but did not find any signs of Prince. They launched a search of the neighborhood to find Prince.
They also sent out a “critically missing” alert but not an AMBER alert. According to Wisconsin law, there must be a description of a suspect or the suspect’s vehicle for an AMBER alert to be issued, which was unknown at the time Prince was reported missing.
Evidence is Found
Jordan escorted detective Bughman through the home. Upon searching the basement, the detective found possible traces of blood on the floor. According to the criminal complaint, Pietura, who was present during the search, attempted to use a nearby runner to cover the stain. Once the detective noticed it, Pietura offered an explanation, stating that Prince had sustained a bloody nose while they were roughhousing earlier. Detective Bughman also noticed what could be blood on a blanket that was used as a room divider. He immediately called for backup and had all residents wait in the living room.
David Pietura is Interviewed
During his interview, Pietura told investigators he mainly spends his days playing video games in his basement apartment. On the morning of October 25, 2023, Pietura stated he had woken up some time between 6:00a.m. and 7:00a.m. and played video games until 11:00a.m. He then explained at 11:00a.m. he went on a walk with E. Mendoza, though he could not remember where they walked to. Pietura started around 2:00p.m. he and E. Mendoza returned to the home, where they played video games. He denied seeing Prince entirely. During the interview, Pietura stated that Prince’s parents sleep often, and he feels “obligated to watch and entertain” him, according to the criminal complaint.
After the interview, investigators asked Pietura to show them where he and E. Mendoza had walked. Pietura stated they had walked to Jacobus Park, which is approximately 2miles from their residence. Investigators asked Pietura for permission to search his phone, which he granted. The search revealed his phone traveled to N 54th Street and Cherry, which is not near Jacobus Park, as Pietura stated.
While speaking to Pietura, investigators noted he had a large amount of blood on his right leg. They placed him under arrest for obstruction of justice.
Search Warrant is Executed
On October 26, 2023, at 3:45a.m., investigators executed a search warrant for the entire residence. They used searched dogs to help track the direction Pietura and E. Mendoza walked, and to see if they noticed the scent of decomposition. While in the basement, Search Dog Jake alerted his handler to the smell of decomposition at the base of the stairs, where several sweatshirts were hanging.
Forensic investigators searched the basement for traces of blood. They found the presence of blood on multiple locations, including multiple rugs in Pietura’s room, on his blanket, multiple pillows, as well as the floor and walls.
While the search warrant was being executed, Pietura was being interviewed again. He told investigators that a golf club was used to murder Prince. Investigators located both items and processed them. They also found black duct tape, clear packing tape, and a wet rag that showed the presence of blood.
David Pietura is Interviewed Again
On the morning of October 26, 2023, David Pietura was read his Miranda rights, which he waived and agreed to be interviewed. For the first 45 minutes, Pietura denied knowing what had happened to Prince. Once investigators pressed him for honestly, Pietura stated he “it wasn’t me”; “I didn’t want any of this”; “I loved that kid”. Pietura told detectives he was covering for E. Mendoza and stated, “he’s not alive”.
According to the criminal complaint, Pietura stated the following series of events took place on the morning of October 25, 2023. Pietura and Prince had been in the basement when E. Mendoza Pietura briefly went upstairs; when he came back, he saw E. Mendoza choking Prince. E. Mendoza then starting striking Prince’s head and body with a golfclub. Prince was bleeding profusely when E. Mendoza attempted to move him into the hallway. Pietura told him to stop and get garbage bags. They then bound Prince’s arms and legs with duct tape, “so it would be easy to put him in” the garbage bags. Pietura and E. Mendoza then stuffed rags in Prince’s mouth and wrapped his head in clear packing tape, before placing him in multiple garbage bags.
Pietura then told detectives they carried the garbage bags to a nearby dumpster, where they place Prince’s body. Upon returning to the basement, E. Mendoza cleaned up the blood using soap and a rag. During the interview, Pietura also told police that E. Mendoza had confided in him other crimes he had committed, where he had stabbed strangers in the back or neck.
Prince McCree’s Body is Recovered
Once investigators learned the location where Prince’s body was disposed of, officers were dispatched to search. Upon finding the dumpster, police officers had located white garbage bags inside. One of the officers had opened the bags to find Prince’s body “blood soaked, bound, and gagged in the fetal position.”
Prince McCree was officially pronounced dead at 9:40a.m. on October 26, 2023.
Video Surveillance Evidence
Investigators obtained surveillance footage from a citizen’s home. The footage showed Pietura and E. Mendoza at 2:02p.m. on October 25, 2023p.m., walking through an alley between a row of homes. Pietura is seen carrying a white garbage bag. They continue walking and Pietura gives the garbage back to E. Mendoza. The pair approach a dumpster. At 2:04p.m. the pair are seen walking back. Neither one is carrying the white garbage bag.
The dumpster they approached was the same one investigator recovered Prince’s body from.
Erick Mendoza is Interviewed
On October 26. 2023, at 1:16p.m. Erick Mendoza was interviewed by detectives. He was read his Miranda rights, which he waived. E. Mendoza initially told police he had woken up at 2:00p.m. on October 25, 2023. Shortly after waking up, he went to the basement to play video games with Pietura. After, the two went outside for a walk. He denied any knowledge of what happened to Prince.
Once police informed E. Mendoza, they had found surveillance of him walking with the white garbage, back they recovered Prince’s body from, he told stated “I strangled him” and told them the following series of events happened on the morning of October 25, 2023.
E. Mendoza explained he and Prince had been playing, but he had gotten too rough. Prince had been on his back when E. Mendoza got on top of him and choked him. After, he struck Prince multiple times with a golf club, which caused Prince to cry and foam at the mouth. E. Mendoza and Pietura took Prince outside, where E. Mendoza stomped on his head about 10 times and repeatedly punched him until he was lifeless. Afterwards, they brought Prince back inside the basement, where they bound the body and placed it in the garbage bags.
Erick is Questioned About the Random Stabbings
During the interview, the detectives also asked E. Mendoza about the random stabbings that took place on October 23, 2023.
On the evening of October 23, 2023, E. Mendoza stated that he was bored, so he went outside and wanted to stab someone badly. He stabbed three random individuals in the neck and back. He used the same knife in each attack, which was recovered during the search of his residence.
According to the criminal complaint, a detective asked him what he would say to his victims. E. Mendoza responded, “I’m sorry, but you are alive.”
David Pietura is Interviewed a Third Time
After speaking with E. Mendoza, investigators pressed Pietura for him to confess his full involvement in the murder of Prince McCree.
This time, Pietura stated he left the room to go upstairs while E. Mendoza had been choking Prince. When he returned to the room, E. Mendoza was still choking Prince until he became motionless. Pietura then stated they had to clean up. The pair bound Price with black duct tape and gagged him with rags. Prince had regained consciousness, leading E. Mendoza to state, “We have to shut him up.” Pietura repeatedly punched Prince. When that did not help stop Prince from crying, E. Mendoza stomped on Prince’s head. Prince continued to cry and whimper, so Pietura grabbed a 30lb. barbell and dropped it on his head. Prince stopped making noise, and the pair placed his body in the garbage bags. Once Prince was in the garbage bag, he started crying again. Pietura and E. Mendoza grabbed the golf club and took turns hitting Prince while he was bound in the garbage bag.
According to the criminal complaint, the bag they placed Prince in had ripped and leak blood. Pietura and E. Mendoza, believing Prince was dead, wrapped the body in more bags and carried him outside. When they got outside, Prince started whimpering again. Pietura grabbed a pedestal and dropped in on Prince’s head twice.
Pietura and E. Mendoza wanted to bring the body to a trail that leads to a sewage line, but the body was “too heavy”, so they hid the remains in a nearby dumpster.
During the interview, Pietura told detectives that E. Mendoza had spoken about killing someone for a while. He had also talked about how much he did not like Prince and wanted to kill him.
Prince McCree’s Autopsy
The medical examiner performed Prince McCree’s autopsy on October 30, 2023. They found evidence of multiple blunt force injuries across Prince’s entire body. A hinge fracture was also found in Prince’s skull. Prince died from multiple blunt force injuries; his manner of death was ruled a homicide.
Arrest & Charges
David Pietura was arrested and charged with first degree intentional homicide; physical abuse of a child, repeated acts causing death; and hiding a corpse. David Pietura faces life if found guilty.
Erick Mendoza was arrested and charged with first degree intentional homicide; hiding a corpse; and three counts of first degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon (for the stabbings). E. Mendoza faces life if found guilty.
David Pietura and Erick Mendoza are each being held on $500,000 bail while awaiting court processes.