Police say that a mother from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and her two young daughters were murdered a week after an Amber Alert was sent out on the trio's behalf. According to BuzzFeed News, 26-year old Amarah Banks and her two daughters, Zaniya Ivery, 5, and Camaria Banks, 4, were found dead Sunday afternoon after a shocking triple murder. Police have since arrested Banks' boyfriend, 25-year-old Arzel Ivery, after he admitted to strangling them and burning their bodies to cover his tracks. The story unfolding behind this tragedy as new details emerge is increasingly heartbreaking.
Banks' family first reported her missing February 9.
Banks and Ivery reportedly went to the funeral of their 21-month-old son on February 7. The boy had died from a severe case of bronchitis in late January. Ivery told Milwaukee police that after the funeral, he went to work and returned to Banks' apartment around 1:30 a.m. the following day.
Ivery told Milwaukee Police that the young mother didn't want him around anymore because he reminded her too much of their son who had died.
According to a police report, Ivery claimed that Banks "was angry that he had gone to work and yelled at him that he did not care about the death of their son."
He then alleged that his girlfriend picked up a knife and said she didn't want to live anymore, before swinging the knife at him and cutting his wrist. He claimed to have grabbed her, shoving her against the wall twice and causing blood to come from her mouth.
Ivery strangled his girlfriend with both hands, later saying she didn't fight back, so he "figured that she wanted to die."
This account, however, differs dramatically from what neighbors would later tell police. According to several unnamed witnesses, they reported hearing Banks scream, "No, no, please don’t kill me," as Ivery dragged her into the apartment building. Later, a woman was reportedly heard screaming, "Don’t kill me, don’t kill me," from inside her apartment.
Ivery told police he couldn't face the thought of the children living without their mother, so he killed them too.
Ivery allegedly walked into the girls' bedroom, where he first "kissed [Zaniya] and told her that 'Daddy loves you' and then told her that her mother wanted her in heaven with her," the chilling police report claimed.
Then, he strangled her until she stopped moving, and did the same to her sister shortly afterward.
Perhaps even more disturbing is what happened next.
Ivery told police he planned to dismember all three bodies after the murders, but he changed his mind when he attempted to dismember Amarah and saw one of her bones.
Changing course, he decided to wrap the bodies in an air mattress and transport them to his car. While driving around, he suddenly remembered that his old apartment building had a four-car garage and that one of the doors to the garage wasn't locked, he said.
So, in one final chilling act, Ivery brought the bodies of his girlfriend and two daughters there, before setting them on fire.
Realizing the fire wasn't strong enough to burn the bodies, he drove to a nearby gas station so he could add gasoline to the flames.
Once the flames grew and the garage became unbearably hot, Ivery said, he left the garage while the bodies of Amarah and her daughters burned behind him.
The 25-year-old allegedly went to Memphis, Tennessee, immediately after, where he confessed what he'd done to his father. The unnamed father, in turn, contacted the Memphis Police Department on Saturday and reported all three murders, as well as his son's attempt to conceal the bodies.
"The Defendant [Arzel Ivery] stated that it was his family, that he brought his kids into this world and that he can take them out if he wanted," the police complaint recounted.
Ivery was taken into police custody that same day and placed on a fugitive from justice charge.
He has since been extradited back to Milwaukee, and on Tuesday, he led police to the garage where he lit the fire.
It was there that investigators discovered the bodies of Banks and her two daughters, and charged Ivery with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide.
In the wake of the shocking murders, the young mother's family is reportedly beside themselves with grief.
Her aunt, Shilloh Loper, spoke with Fox 6 on Sunday, and shared her grief over the young mother's passing.
"You have to be a heartless monster to do something like this to someone," Loper said. "I don't know what to even say, but I know I'll never get over this. Not ever in my life will I get over this. I will never get over someone doing this to my niece."
The family is additionally heartbroken over the loss of Banks' two innocent daughters.
"All of them [were] special to the family," Loper said. "Four and five. They knew nothing. How can somebody just do that to somebody, and then, the little kids, too. They haven't even lived their lives."
To Loper, the murders are tragic on many levels, but they also serve as a cautionary tale to everyone about the people you keep close.
"A person that is in your life, you need to try to find out about them -- your lover, friend, whatever can be your worst enemy," she said.