The girlfriend of a Kansas City man accused of a savage attack that left a young mother dead and her 4-year-old daughter fighting for her life gave her boyfriend a fake ‘cover story’ that she would be with the victims on the night of the murder, police say.
Jose Escalante-Corchado, 24, has been charged the first-degree murder of nursing assistant Mackenzie Hopkins, 24, and a first-degree assault of her daughter at their home in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday.
Ms Hopkins’ body was found in a bathtub and her daughter unconscious in a bed with “severe blunt force trauma to the head” at 5.45pm last Saturday after police were called to perform a welfare check, according to charging documents.
Police found a large pools of blood and drag marks to indicate the mother and daughter had been moved.
Ms Hopkins had phoned 911 nearly 12 hours before the grisly discovery to report an intruder in her home, and while it’s understood police responded to the call they did not find any suspicious activity.
When police went to interview a friend of Ms Hopkins at her home the next day, they noticed a pair of Ariat cowboy boots which matched bloody prints found at the murder scene, according to court documents.
The friend, who has not been identified, told detectives the boots belonged to her boyfriend, Escalante-Corchado.
She later told authorities she had made up a bogus story to her boyfriend that she would be with Ms Hopkins on the night of the murder.
“She stated this was a cover story and she did not plan on being with the victim,” police say in charging documents.
The friend said when Escalante-Corchado was not at home when she returned that night.
He was spotted on surveillance footage entering a Shell gas station near the scene of the murder in a white truck.
He has denied the killing but said he had “helped the victim move in her house and stated the victim’s daughter would know who he was.”
According to charging documents, detectives located surveillance video from a neighbouring property of a man running away from Ms Hopkins’ home and getting into a white truck one minute after Ms Hopkins made the 911 call.
The truck is seen pulling into a Shell gas station several minutes later and a Hispanic man with black hair, and wearing a dark coloured hooded sweatshirt, dark coloured coveralls, and a blue medical mask enters the store.
Surveillance footage shows the truck leave the gas station at 6.22am on 15 January. At 6.48am, the unknown male reappears entering Ms Hopkins’ home, before leaving again two hours later.
When presented with the surveillance footage Escalante-Corchado admitted he had been at the Shell gas station that day and it was him on the tape, according to court documents.
He told detectives he had been at a bar at the 7th St Casino until 3am on the morning of the murder and had “made a few turns” in his truck before returning home.
He told police he knew Ms Hopkins and her daughter, and helped them move into their apartment two months earlier.
“Escalante denied any involvement in the murder of the victim and assault on her daughter but had no reasonable explanation for being in the area of the victim’s house in his truck for over 2 hours,” detectives said.
He is being held without bail on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree assault, two counts of armed criminal action and first-degree endangering the welfare of a child. Under Missouri state law, prosecutors could seek the death penalty against him.
In a GoFundme page set up to help raise money for funeral and medical expenses, her sister in law Shawna Hopkins said: “Mackenzie was so loved by many. She was an incredible sister, daughter, friend, and mother.
“Her only wish would be for her sweet little girl to recover as quickly as possible.”
In an update posted to the page on Friday, Shawna Hopkins said her niece would require “extensive mental and physical rehabilitation for months or years to come”.
“Thank you for honouring Mackenzie by helping us care for her pride and joy.”
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