Melissa Rodriguez met her death at Hitchcock Park, where, her boyfriend told investigators, he strangled her during an argument, stripped off some of her clothing, then dumped her in an open grave he spied in a nearby cemetery.
Prosecutors provided that and other details about Mikael Loyd's alleged confession during a court appearance Tuesday.
Loyd, 19, is charged with first-degree murder. A judge granted prosecutors' request that he be held without bail in the slaying of Rodriguez, also 19.
Prosecutors said Loyd told investigators that he and Rodriguez met at Hitchcock Park, near 42nd and Q Streets, on Aug. 14.
The pair argued, made up and argued again, he told investigators.
He ultimately killed Rodriguez, prosecutors told the judge, because she reminded him of his mother — who, he told investigators, he blames for his father's 1995 homicide.
Rodriguez's body was found the following morning at Graceland Park Cemetery, 42nd and L Streets. Workers arrived to place a burial vault inside a freshly dug grave just before 10 a.m. and discovered Rodriguez's body in it.
The grave — the cemetery's only open one that day — was intended for another recent homicide victim, Kevin F. McIntyre, 28, who was shot Aug. 4.
Loyd told police that after he killed Rodriguez, he dragged her to the grave. But before dumping her in it, prosecutors said, Loyd stripped her of her underwear and took her cellphone. He told investigators he tossed the phone in a dumpster near 24th and Leavenworth Streets.
Loyd's grandmother said in an interview after the court hearing that her grandson has a history of mental health problems, including depression. She said both Loyd's and Rodriguez's families had told the pair that they were better off apart because their relationship was so rocky.
But Loyd's aunt, who declined to be named, said “they wouldn't stay away from each other. She was fighting him, he was fighting her.”
Social media posts from friends indicate the couple's relationship had long been troubled and at time abusive. Police were called to Rodriguez's home June 11 and told that Loyd had grabbed Rodriguez by her arms, where she had bruises, during an argument. She also had bruises on her legs, but she did not indicate whether those were caused by Loyd, according to court documents.
Rodriguez at the time told officers she was “fine” and did not want to press charges. But her relatives remained concerned and later called a detective to say Loyd had taken Rodriguez's cellphone, leaving her out of touch.
At her relatives' urging, Rodriguez had recently left Loyd and returned to her parents' home, according to social media posts from friends. The home is about a mile from the cemetery. At some point Thursday, she decided to meet Loyd in the park.
Rodriguez, who was about to begin her sophomore year at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, was a varsity softball player and performer with the dance team at South High School.
Timeline of events
Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013
Mikael Loyd initiated contact with two Omaha police detectives at Central Police Headquarters regarding an unrelated matter. During the conversation, detectives became concerned about statements Loyd made and decided to take action. Loyd had a misdemeanor arrest warrant, but due to his state of mind, police decided to place him into emergency protective custody at Lasting Hope.
Monday, Aug. 12, 2013
Mikael Loyd called 911 from the Lasting Hope facility wanting to turn himself in for a misdemeanor arrest warrant. Officers responded to Lasting Hope but after speaking to staff members were under the impression that Loyd was still under emergency protective custody so he could not leave.
Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013
Mikael Loyd was released from Lasting Hope and left the facility.
Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013
Melissa Rodriguez was found deceased at Graceland Cemetery located at 4720 S. 42nd St.
Friday, Aug. 16, 2013
Mikael Loyd was booked on suspicion of first-degree murder.