BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A shocking and sickening murder. Now police say the death of a 16-year-old girl was part of a gang initiation.
Derek Valcourt spoke with an expert in gang activity about the case.
This kind of savage crime against an innocent person is apparently not uncommon for a gang initiation. Experts say it’s a way to prove loyalty.
At just 14-years-old, Raeshawn Rivers now stands accused of helping two other men in the vicious rape and murder of 16-year-old Arnesha Bowers–a crime police say the suspects admit was all part of a gang initiation.
“This was supposed to be done in order for one of these guys to get in and another guy to move higher up within this gang,” said Major Stanley Brandford, Baltimore Police Department.
Police allege after the three men broke into the Northeast Baltimore home Bowers shared with her grandmother on June 7, they killed Bowers and set fire to the house.
New court documents show Bowers was strangled and her genitals were burned in an apparent effort to destroy evidence that she had also been sexually assaulted.
Rivers later admitted to police he called Bowers multiple times before she died and even used her cell phone after the murder to send a text to her friend to throw off police.
Police say the night before the murder, all three of the suspects had been hanging out with the victim at a party.
Investigators say Arnesha Bowers may not have known the suspects’ claimed affiliation with the Tree Top Piru Bloods gang.
“They are a sect of the Bloods,” said former state police and FBI agent Dr. Tyrone Powers.
Powers says the city’s rise in crime, coupled with the arrival of school summer vacation may actually help bolster gangs.
“There could be more recruitment. And if there’s more recruitment, there could be more initiations. And that initiation process will always involve an attack on the innocent,” he said. “Because the philosophy is that if you’re willing to attack someone who you do not know, when I order you to attack one of our known enemies, you will act without hesitation.”
A judge Thursday morning ordered 14-year-old suspect be held without bail. He is being charged as an adult.
Police say their investigation continues. It’s possible there could be more arrests in the case.