Arzel Ivery, 25, was charged in Milwaukee County with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of 26-year-old Amarah Banks, 5-year-old Zaniya Ivery and 4-year-old Camaria Banks. Police found their burned bodies in a Milwaukee garage on Sunday afternoon, about a week after Banks was reported missing.
Ivery told investigators that he killed his girlfriend and her daughters on Feb. 8 after a fight with Banks. He said she was upset over his decision to go to work as a security guard so soon after the Feb. 7 funeral of their 1-year-old son, Arzel Ivery Jr. Arzel had a history of asthma and died Jan. 24 from respiratory problems, according to autopsy reports.
Ivery said Banks yelled at him that he did not care about their son's death, then she picked up a knife and said she did not want to live, according to the complaint. Ivery said Banks cut his left wrist. He then grabbed Banks, pushed her head into a wall twice and strangled her, according to the complaint.
“He stated that Ms. Banks was not fighting him, so he figured that she wanted to die. The Defendant claimed that he was helping her die,” the complaint said. Ivery said he then killed the children because he did not want them to live in a world without their mother, according to the complaint. He went into the children's bedroom, took Zaniya out of the room, kissed her and told her "Daddy loves you” and said her mother wanted her in heaven with her, the complaint said. He then strangled the girl, the complaint said.
Ivery then returned to the girls' bedroom, woke up Camaria, kissed her and told her her mother wanted her in heaven with her, then strangled the 4-year-old, according to the complaint. “The Defendant 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 complaint said.
Ivery started dismembering his girlfriend's body using a steak knife but stopped after reaching a leg bone, the complaint said. He then drove to the garage of his former apartment building, dragged the bodies into a back corner and lit them on fire, according to the complaint. When the fire did not appear to be hot enough, Ivery threw gasoline onto the smoldering bodies, the complaint said.
He then went to Memphis, Tennessee, where his father lives and where he planned to start a new life, according to the complaint. Ivery was being held Tuesday in Tennessee. Online court records in Wisconsin do not list an attorney who can comment on the allegations against him.
Relatives said they had not heard from Banks since early on Feb. 8, and police opened a missing persons investigation the next day. Authorities issued an Amber Alert for her and her daughters on Saturday.