A Michigan man allegedly embarked on a two-day rampage in which he fatally stabbed a 13-year-old girl, sexually assaulted her mother and another woman, and took hostages—all while out of jail on bond, prosecutors said Tuesday. Isaiah G. “Zeek” Gardenhire was reportedly belligerent at his arraignment Tuesday as the long list of charges against him was read out.
MLive.com reports that 40-year-old Gardenhire grinned and waved both middle fingers via Zoom as Isabella County Judge Sara Spencer-Noggle set his new bond at $3 million. He had bonded out of jail in Mason County on a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge just a few days before his alleged crime spree, court records show.
Prosecutors say Gardenhire’s string of brutal attacks began on June 6, when he sexually assaulted his girlfriend in Mount Pleasant. Her name has not been released.
“At some point during that altercation, Mr. Gardenhire’s attention turned to [the girlfriend’s] daughter, who was in the home as well,” Isabella County Prosecutor David Barberi said. The mother fled the home and sought police help, but when she returned with law enforcement, Gardenhire had already stabbed the teenager, Barberi said. The 13-year-old, who has also not been identified, died of her injuries despite first responders’ attempts to save her.
A neighbor who was alerted to the gruesome series of events by the arrival of ambulances said he was haunted by what he realized the next morning: The mother had pleaded for his help during the savage attack, but he was sleeping.
Speaking to local news outlet WNEM-TV on the condition of anonymity, he said he learned after the ambulances arrived that the victim “had gotten out at some point during the night and come over to our house and tried knocking on our door for help.”
“Went outside [on Sunday morning] and realized that there were bloody, muddy handprints all over our front door,” he said.
“Shocking. Surreal. You can’t help but feel guilty. Would things have changed if we would have heard her?”
While the mother was arriving back home with police to find her daughter mortally wounded, prosecutors say Gardenhire was already heading toward his next victims: two Mount Pleasant residents, a woman and a man, whom he allegedly held hostage in their apartment while police were searching for him. He repeatedly sexually assaulted the woman before stealing the couple’s money and car, Barberi told the court.
“This is certainly a horrific tragedy and a completely senseless loss of life,” Barberi said, adding that “our focus now is on the healing of the victims.”