MILWAUKEE — One of three people charged in connection with the death of Robert Piotrowski, 70, near 28th and Becher on July 3 has reached a plea deal in the case against her. Piotrowski was beaten during a robbery at his home — his body then set on fire.
Ebone Spencer, 24, on Jan. 4 pleaded guilty to two charges: felony murder and arson of a building without the owner’s consent. A third charge was dismissed but read into the court record. She’ll be sentenced on May 18.
There are two others charged in this case — Ladarius Boyce, 22 and Quincy Qualls, 24. Qualls faces one count of felony murder, and Boyce faces one count of felony murder, one count of arson of a building without the owner’s consent and mutilating a corpse. They have jury trials scheduled to begin in May (Boyce) and March (Qualls).
Piotrowski was found dead inside a home early. Officials identified early on that this was an arson and homicide case.
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.”
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.
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.
When investigators spoke with Spencer, she indicated “she had a relationship with ‘Bob,’ who would occasionally give her money.”
Spencer indicated early on July 2 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.”