At least one Omaha police officer knew that Mikael Loyd had been released from a mental health treatment center in the hours before his girlfriend was killed.
Loyd called homicide Sgt. Teresa Negron on Aug. 14 to say he had left Lasting Hope Recovery Center. Police had placed Loyd at the center after he made erratic comments about wanting to kill his mother.
Negron knew there was an outstanding arrest warrant charging Loyd with assaulting his girlfriend, Melissa Rodriguez, according to the Omaha Police Department. But he didn't mention Rodriguez in the phone conversation.
After Negron spoke to Loyd, she called Lasting Hope to verify that Loyd had left. She then called his mother, who lives in North Carolina.
Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said he learned of the phone call between Loyd and Negron from The World-Herald on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, the department had issued a statement saying police were unaware that Loyd was back on the street because Lasting Hope had not notified officers of his release.
It's not clear what Negron did after talking to Loyd and Lasting Hope. But Schmaderer said he was not aware of any attempt to take Loyd into police custody.
Prosecutors say Loyd killed Rodriguez and dumped her body in an empty grave — hours after the phone call to Negron.
Loyd has been charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bail.
Prosecutors say Loyd killed Rodriguez because she reminded him of his mother, whom he blamed for his father's homicide.
The new details — of a third contact between Omaha police and Loyd in the week before Rodriguez's slaying — raise more questions about why Loyd wasn't in custody before the killing.
Omaha police addressed some of those questions Wednesday. In its statement, the department said it doesn't believe Lasting Hope officials called police when Loyd was released – even though officers had asked them to.
“The Omaha Police Department and Lasting Hope are aware that there are issues with procedure when releasing a patient who has an active warrant,” said the statement. “Both agencies are working cooperatively together towards a clear policy regarding removing patients from a secure mental health facility.”
Alegent Creighton Health, which oversees Lasting Hope, declined to comment about the case.
Until he was contacted by The World-Herald, Schmaderer said, he didn't know that one of his officers had spoken to Loyd after his release from Lasting Hope.
When he spoke to Negron, Schmaderer said, she acknowledged the conversation with Loyd and her later call to Lasting Hope.
Schmaderer said Negron also told him Loyd had left Lasting Hope with a friend on Aug. 14.
Loyd originally contacted Negron in early August, wanting to talk about his father's 1995 death in a gang-related shooting.
She and another detective called him back Aug. 5, and they spoke to him at Central Police Headquarters on Aug. 8, according to police.
Police say he made threatening statements about his mother during that meeting, but Rodriguez didn't come up.
At that point, the detectives knew about the arrest warrant for assault and battery of Rodriguez. But officers were so concerned about his mental health that instead of arresting him, they placed him in emergency protective custody at Lasting Hope.
Four days later, Loyd called 911 from Lasting Hope and asked to be arrested.
According to police, officers arrived to arrest him, “but after speaking to staff were under the impression that Loyd was still under emergency protective custody so he could not leave.”
That's when officers asked Lasting Hope to call police before Loyd was released, according to the Police Department.
He was released two days later, Aug. 14.
On Aug. 15, Rodriguez's body was found in an open grave at Graceland Park Cemetery.