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“We got this:” 3 charged after 70-year-old man beaten to death during robbery, home set on fire

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MILWAUKEE -- Three people are now charged in connection with the death of 70-year-old Robert Piotrowski on Milwaukee's south side, which happened on July 3rd. The suspects include Ladarius Boyce, Quincy Qualls and Ebone Spencer.

The three persons face the following charges:

  • Felony murder (all three suspects)
  • Arson of building, party to a crime (Boyce and Spencer)
  • Mutilating a corpse (Boyce and Spencer)

Melissa Ruiz

Piotrowski was found dead inside a home near 28th and Becher early on that Monday. Officials identified early on that this was an arson and homicide case.

A woman who lives above the unit Piotrowski lived in said she just returned to her home on Wednesday, July 19th -- because there was heavy smoke damage. On Monday, July 24th, as charges were filed, she recalled the events of July 3rd.

"Got my husband out of bed, called 911 and we came outside. I wasn't sure if he was still in the house or not. I can't believe there are people out in the world who could do something like that. He's a nice old guy," Melissa Ruiz said.

Duplex fire near 28th and Becher

Duplex fire near 28th and Becher

Duplex fire near 28th and Becher

The Milwaukee County medical examiner determined Piotrowski died from "positional asphyxia, along with blunt force injuries." The complaint indicates the medical examiner "did not observe any soot in the victim's airways, and therefore concluded that the victim was deceased prior to the fire being set inside the residence."

Quincy Qualls

The complaint indicates the three suspects came up with a plan to "go to 'Bob's' house...and take money from him." Spencer "claimed that the victim had money and a car, and that getting these things would be easy."  She said, "This is sweet. We got this."

A statement to police from Qualls indicates Spencer drove the group to Piotrowski's house. The complaint says "the plan was for Boyce to punch the victim into unconsciousness and then to search the residence for money and the title to the victim's car." The three were inside Piotrowski's house for approximately an hour, Qualls told police.

Arson near 28th and Becher

Ladarius Boyce

Finding nothing, Qualls told police he exited the house and returned to the car they came in. "Boyce and Spencer remained inside for another 25 minutes," the complaint says. Qualls the indicated "he heard a smoke alarm go off. Spencer then exited and Boyce came out last." Qualls told police "Spencer said that she 'sprinkled some stuff on the floor' and started the fire."

When Boyce talked to police and indicated he "used chains to tie the victim's hands behind his back, and also to tie the victim's ankles together." He also admitted punching the victim.

Arson near 28th and Becher

When investigators spoke with Spencer, she indicated "she had a relationship with 'Bob,' who would occasionally give her money."

Ebone Spencer

Spencer indicated early on Sunday, July 2nd is when the three suspects robbed Piotroski. She said "she heard thuds coming from Bob's bedroom, and either Qualls or Boyce asking 'Bob' for his PIN number." After the robbery, Spencer said "she drove 'Bob's' car to Water, and stopped at Walmart to use 'Bob's' debit card to buy a TV." When Spencer and Boyce returned home, she told police she "could not sleep out of worry that 'Bob' was not alright." The group then returned to Piotrowski's home the next night and found him "dead in the same position they left him in."

According to the criminal complaint, Spencer "stated she felt bad and did not want 'Bob' to rot in his residence." She stated that "she thought if they started a fire, the police would find 'Bob." Spencer said "she searched for a flammable item and found a can under the sink." The complaint indicates she then squirted the contents "onto the comforter and all over the room. Spencer stated that Boyce struck a match and lit the fluid."

All three suspects are scheduled to be back in court for a preliminary hearing on August 1st.

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