Important resources to help you navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Wisconsin
Hub for reliable, timely news about COVID-19 pandemic

Charged: Arzel Ivery told police he strangled mother, 2 daughters; tried to hide their bodies

Data pix.

Arzel Ivery

MILWAUKEE -- An amended complaint was filed on Tuesday, Feb. 18 against Arzel Ivery, the man suspected of killing Amarah "Jerica" Banks and her two daughters, Camaria Banks and Zaniya Ivery. It details how Ivery says he killed the three -- and then tried to hide their bodies. Banks and the girls were found dead Sunday, Feb. 16 in a garage near 47th Street and Burleigh Street in Milwaukee.

Ivery now faces three counts of first-degree intentional homicide. He was originally charged with aggravated battery (substantial risk of great bodily harm).

According to the criminal complaint, police spoke by phone with Ivery on Feb. 7. He indicated "there was a funeral for his son that he had with Ms. Banks." He indicated the two got into an argument "because Ms. banks blamed the defendant for the death of their son." Ivery told police "Banks was upset and making a scene" and that he "stayed for a little bit and then left to go sleep in his truck." The complaint says Ivery "did not know where Ms. Banks or the children were." Ivery indicated he was out of state and that he "would come back next Friday," Feb. 21 to be interviewed by police.

Ivery's father contacts Memphis police

Memphis police received a call from Ivery's father on Feb. 15. He stated that Ivery "has confessed to (Ivery's father) that the Defendant had killed the mother of his children and his children in Milwaukee. Later, (Ivery's father) also told Memphis detectives that the Defendant had stated that he had burned the bodies."

Search warrant of Banks' apartment

The complaint against Ivery says on Feb. 15, Milwaukee police obtained a search warrant to search Jerica Banks' apartment. A trained cadaver dog was brought into the children's bedroom -- and the dog "detected an odor of decomposing human remains." Forensic investigators also detected the "presence of human blood" inside a closet in the room.

Ivery's statement to Milwaukee police

Arzel Ivery Sr.

Arzel Ivery Sr.

When interviewed by a Milwaukee police officer who traveled to Memphis, the complaint indicates Ivery said "things had been tense between himself and Ms. Banks since the death of their son. He stated that Ms. Banks had not wanted him around anymore because he reminded her of their son."

The funeral for the son was on Feb. 7 -- and afterward, Ivery indicated he went to work. When he went to Banks' apartment around 1:30 a.m. on Feb. 8, the complaint said Banks "was angry that (Ivery) had gone to work and yelled at him that he did not care about the death of their son." Ivery claimed to police he and Banks had an argument and "he then grabbed Ms. Banks and pushed her head into the wall two times." Ivery then indicated he "strangled Ms. Banks with both hands."

The complaint says Ivery then stated, "he did not want the children...to live in a world where they did not have their mother." He indicated he then strangled both the children. The complaint says Ivery then tried to hide the bodies of all three by burning them.

Amarah Banks, Zaniya Ivery, Camaria Banks

Ivery also told detectives "he planned on starting a new life in Memphis" and "admitted that he told his father that he had killed Ms. Banks and the two children."

Help for victims of domestic violence

"For Sojourner, we are heartbroken with the family," said Carmen Pitre, president and CEO of Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee.

The center is dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence. This horrific crime brings to light the issue that is plaguing Milwuakee.

"There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who need help in this community we need to take that seriously and be available in every corner of this community," Pitre said. "They are looking for an opening and kindness and for someone to understand."

Pitre said helping victims is also a community effort -- if you see something, say something.

"As a community, we need to reach our arms around the people who are suffering," Pitre said.

For those who need help, it is available 24/7 at Sojourner Family Peace Center. You can call their hotline, 414-933-2722, visit their website, or even go to their location for assistance.

Meanwhile, Arzel Ivery is expected to be extradited back to Milwaukee. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.