Authorities have released the cause of death of three missing Michigan men whose frozen bodies were discovered in an abandoned Highland Park apartment building, in Highland Park, Michigan, a small enclave city wholly surrounded by Detroit. The men were gunned down, police say.
The last time anyone saw rappers Armani “Marley Whoop” Kelly, 27, and Dante “B12” Wicker, 31, and their friend Montoya Givens, 31, was on Saturday, Jan. 21, after their performance at a popular Detroit club, Lounge 31, was canceled.
For nearly two weeks, multiple policing agencies were searching for the men, despite family members saying they were being kept in the dark and believed very little had been done. Now, officials have confirmed the bodies found beneath a pile of debris in the basement of the Highland Park apartment complex were those of the missing men, the Detroit News reports.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Michigan State Police Second District tweeted, “Members of the homicide task force are continuing to make progress on the investigation of the homicide of three men in Highland Park. It has been determined that the cause of death for each of the men was multiple gunshot wounds.”
Adding, “The investigation also has revealed that this was not a random incident. The investigation is continuing and detectives are making progress and we believe we may have determined a motive. Once more information is developed, we will continue to update here.”
The day the men went missing, Kelly drove from some 200 miles south from Oscoda, Michigan, to pick up his friends in the Detroit area to perform at the show.
Two days later, on Monday, Jan. 23, the rapper was the first of the men to be reported missing. His mother, Lorrie Kemp, contacted police about his disappearance.
Kemp and the other mothers believed law enforcement dragged their feet in looking for the men.
Out of frustration, Kelly’s mom posted on social media a week after the men went missing, she believed police were not looking for her son and his friends with any urgency because he had served time in prison.
On Facebook she wrote, “shame on the police, shame on the whole state, and shame on u Detroit. If only 1 police dept. would have listened, maybe we would NOT be here!”
“I was told my son was a felony & a drug dealer & a gang member! Really! He severed (sic) his time,” adding, “He’s NOT a drug dealer nor is he in a gang. Were in Oscoda is he selling drugs to?”
Kemp further stated the officers judged the men for their pasts, which is why no one was really searching for them.
The mom said she tried her best to find her son.
She attempted to track his vehicle through Onstar, and found it at three locations in Warren, about half an hour north of Detroit.
Another mother, Cat Fogle, told the Detroit News her son was not a rapper, but knew Kelly from the Baraga Correctional Facility in Baraga from August 2017 to March 2022.
“When he got out of prison in March, his younger brother entered the music game and was producing and writing his own music. They talked about doing it together, but he said, ‘That’s not really for me,’” she recalled.
Taylor Perrin, Kelly’s fiancée, said all three men were locked up together.
On Thursday, Feb. 2, Warren police said they located Kelly’s vehicle in possession of a teen.
Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer said they picked up a 15-year-old boy, alleging he was in Kelly’s 2017 Chevrolet Equinox without a license plate, according to NBC News.
Dwyer said officers brought the teen “into the Warren police headquarters” and that “he was taken into custody” and described the boy’s cooperation with authorities.
Law enforcement used the boy’s call and text history to locate the man who told him about the car.
According to the Detroit News, sources close to the case said the person had an outstanding warrant involving alleged fraud, making it easy to get an additional warrant to search his house and take him into custody on Monday, Feb. 6.
An additional break for police was footage of a man cleaning out Kelly’s car with gloves. Detectives used high-definition zoom from various Project Green Light locations in Detroit and were able to identify the person.
Later that night, Michigan State Police posted on Twitter, saying, “Members of the Homicide Task Force, Metro South Post, and the MSP Forensic lab are currently at an abandoned apartment complex on the corner of McNichols and Log Cabin in Highland Park on a death investigation.”
Days after the discovery, Kemp continued to mourn on social media, posting and reposting tributes to her son. She is also asking people to support the family’s GoFundMe for Kelly set up by Tracey Nicole on Jan. 27.
The family’s goal is to raise $25,000. So far it has made only a little over $1,200.
Wicker’s family has a crowdfunding campaign set up for his funeral expenses.
Donna Lewis wrote, “As you can imagine, the family is devastated and we have to now bury our beloved family member unexpectedly and need the funds to do so.”
“Please help us properly bury our loved one. Any donations is greatly appreciated. Please help us reach our goal,” it continued. “Our family is in desperate need of closure from such a traumatic ordeal. Thank you for your prayers, for your thoughts, and for your donations.”
Of the $3,000 desired by the Lewis/Wicker family, a little under $200 has been raised in four days.
The family of Givens also created a fundraiser for homegoing expenses. Organized by Pie Chambers, the copy says the family needs the fund “to lay Monty to rest properly.”
The goal for the Givens family was $10,000. They have raised over $2,500.