They Made This Dead Toddler Disappear
The police found a two-year-old girl dead in a gangbanger’s lap. Why have they kept an apparent crime quiet? How does a hardened criminal-turned-peacemaker fit in?
Update: Sept. 29, 2015, 1:15pm
After months of delay, jury selection began today in Denver involving the attempted murder trial of Terrance Roberts, the former Bloods member-cum-peace activist who allegedly put a rival gang member and accused toddler killer Hasan “Munch” Jones into a wheelchair.
On Roberts’s Facebook page he posted a plea for solidarity:
Please join me tmw morning, and for certain days of my trial. We'll be meeting up in the mornings and discussing important issues affecting our city....... I know it's early, but hey, my trial starts at 8:30am and I have to be in there early....... Thanks for the support my people - Even if you can't make it!....... Tha Realest
The Daily Beast spoke at length with Roberts and discussed with him exclusively the blow-by-blow of what allegedly happened on that bizarre summer day in 2013 when Roberts, whose street name “Showbizz” or just “Bizz”, managed to turn to his pistol even as he was prepping a peace rally.
“Munch”, the 24-year-old paraplegic who beat charges that he was a possible triggerman in a deadly drive-by in Denver, was remanded after his standoff with Roberts, and is awaiting trial for child abuse and reckless death charges in the death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter Ny’Ari “NyNy” Hines. His arraignment has been set for November 2.
This past summer, cops in Colorado cracked an attempted murder case involving a reputed Blood member. But when they found the alleged perpetrator, they discovered something even more awful: a two-year-old, dead in the gangbanger’s lap.
The toddler’s death failed to break any headlines, in part because her passing was only a drop in a pool of senseless bloodletting that is spilling throughout Denver. There’s a gang war underway between storied rivals, the Bloods and the Crips; many say is the worst it’s been since 1993, Denver’s so-called “Summer of Violence.”
But what’s most disturbing is that multiple law enforcement agencies—including two different police departments and a prosecutor’s office—seem to be trying to make the death of this two-year-old disappear. Exactly why remains uncertain.
Last year, 10 out of Denver’s 31 murders were committed by gangs. The new year was produced no let-up. Two weeks in, and the Mile High City has chalked-up at least one gang-related double homicide, according to police records.
Some the gang beefs have involved high profile names. Last June, there was an attempt on the life of rapper Schoolboy Q outside the historic Colorado music venue Red Rocks Amphitheater. In November, a rising rapper KL The General was shot in the chest outside of a Denver nightclub.
Even Mayor Michael Hancock’s 19-year-old son Jordan was questioned in connection to a gang-related shooting. He was seated in a car with known gang members who unloaded weapons and struck a teenager in the head.
The core of this gang war may be revealed in a Jan. 27 criminal trial. That is the day when the city’s most proven anti-gang activist—Blood-turned-peacemaker Terrance Roberts—could go to prison for the rest of his life for shooting one of the city’s most dangerous Bloods.
It was Sept. 20, 2013 when the 38-year-old Roberts—who went by the street name “Showbizz”—said he pulled out his pistol and in self-defense put down Hasan “Munch” Jones, who was allegedly leading a pack of Bloods to attack him. The two knew each other well; both came up in the same notorious gang, and before the shooting, Roberts even tried to help Jones to leave the Blood life.
The melee paralyzed Hasan “Munch” Jones for life and he is confined to a wheelchair. But despite losing his ability to walk, “Munch” failed to quit gangbanging.
He allegedly was on a “crime spree,” according to multiple sources familiar with the matter, involving at least two drive-by shootings.
A $50,000 warrant document was put out by Denver authorities in an attempt to scoop Jones up. On Aug. 18, 2014, cops discovered the wanted man was actually cooling his heels at his girlfriend’s apartment in nearby Aurora. When they moved in on Jones, multiple sources familiar with the homicide case told The Daily Beast he had a lifeless two year-old baby girl in his arms.
Ny’Ari Sanique Hines, affectionately called “NyNy,” turned two only four days before her life was snatched. Multiple sources said the young girl had marks on her feet that were consistent with those from a wheelchair tire.
Just before NyNy was buried, her mother Quisa Antoine was told by officials from the Arapahoe County Coroner that the death was a homicide and caused by “blunt force trauma.” “She had a hole in her intestine and they couldn’t tell if someone punched her or hit her with an object,” Quisa Antoine, 22, told The Daily Beast. “That’s what caused her death.”
She said NyNy was “barely starting to talk, but her favorite words were ‘stop,’ ‘no, and ‘Mom.’” The toddler, her mother added, was wary of strangers—including Antoine’s boyfriend at the time, “Munch” Jones. He was never meant to play a father figure. “I never wanted her to call him dad or look at him as a dad,” she said. “He has a kid of his own.”
On the night she lost NyNy, Antoine returned home after work and her daughter was ill with what she thought was a simple stomach ache. She raced to buy prune juice. Then she received a series of angry text messages from “Munch” who was wanted for gunning down a Denver man in a drive-by shooting two months prior.
When Antoine finally came home with the prune juice she was too late. “[Munch] says he was sleeping till 2 o’clock [p.m.] and he didn’t know what happened.” The snoozing Munch was supposed to be watching NyNy. Instead, she became a homicide victim.
Since then, the anguished mother has been forced to either come to terms that her ex-boyfriend killed NyNy or consider far-fetched scenarios. “Maybe somebody could have jumped over the balcony and gotten into the apartment while he was sleeping and covered her mouth and nobody could hear her scream?”
One certainty is Antoine is determined to move on from Munch, who is sitting in jail as he tries to beat his drive-by shooting rap. “Even if it comes back that he didn’t do anything, what happened to my daughter is a sign to say goodbye. Me and him shouldn’t be together.”
A call by The Daily Beast to the Arapahoe County Coroner was met with great resistance. “The case is actually sealed and the reason is because it’s a homicide,” said a worker there, who gave her first name as Lisa. “It’s currently being tried in conjunction with something else and we have it sealed per the D.A.’s office. I can’t release much more at this time.”
The Aurora D.A.’s office, however, claims it doesn’t have an open case. “I don’t know the details of this case because it hasn’t been filed with our office,” Aurora D.A. spokeswoman Michelle Yi told The Daily Beast in a phone interview. She referred us to the Aurora Police Department because “the investigation is in their hands.”
Aurora Police Officer Diane Cooley was unable to speak about anything related to Ny’Ari Hine’s homicide—or confirm if “Munch” Jones was a suspect. “The case is still under investigation and there isn’t any information we’re allowed to release,” she said.
The only detail she could impart was that Jones had been picked up on a Denver warrant for a drive-by shooting on May 30. According to a charging document provided by Denver prosecutors (PDF), Jones and two of his gangster associates taunted and ultimately attacked the young man who was donning a “light blue striped shirt and blue shorts” while walking to his mother’s home.
Jones and fellow members of the Crenshaw Mafia Park Hill Bloods allegedly labeled the home on Ivanhoe Street as a Crip house. According to the police document, they hopped out of the car just before 5 p.m., just as children living there went inside from riding their bikes to take shelter from the rain.
Then the gangsters allegedly yelled “blood murder” and the derogatory “crab killer” before several shots rang out. The sister of the young man who was shot, 24 year-old Zakiya Turner, had become a new mom and was ducking behind the wheel of her mother’s Pontiac G6 when she saw a van with a three Blood assassins pull up.
Turner said her 29 year-old brother, who the Daily Beast is not naming, was not a gangbanger. According to Turner, on the day of the shooting, he was walking to her mother’s house after interviewing for a supervisor position at a warehouse. He planned to meet his sister’s newborn baby.
Jones and his crew stopped by twice. The first time was all talk. “The van came up and they were saying, ‘Crab killer, this is Blood gang,’” Turner, who was watching from the living room window, told The Daily Beast. “My husband goes out with his hands up to try and calm everybody down. And they say, ‘Blood bath, go get the heat.’”
Instantly, Turner’s mom gathered the kids into a back room and everybody tried to file in the house while she went outside to move her mom’s car. “It sounds crazy, Turner said, “but it had just been in an accident recently and I don’t want her to go through anymore with her car again.”
Before Turner could start the car, she said she saw the metallic-colored van reappear in the rearview mirror. This time, words weren’t spoken. “There were three silhouettes—a driver a passenger and someone in the back seat,” she said. “Only two of them got out. One of them from the car shot three times.”
Her brother hasn’t been “right” since getting shot, Turner said. “He just lost a fiancée a couple weeks ago,” she added.
Making matters worse is how long it took to bring Jones to justice. “He’s a fucking cripple,” Turner said of the almost two months Jones managed to avoid capture since shooting her brother. “Why can’t you find somebody who has to have help get around.”
Years ago her brother refused to join the Park Hill Bloods—and it cost him. “My brother was not out on these streets gangbanging,” Turner added. “He didn’t choose to be a Blood and so they labeled him a Crip.”
The Bloods in the neighborhood continue to menace her mother with constant drive-bys, “throwing up gang signs while screaming and antagonizing her,” said Turner, who has since moved her family away.
The trial of “Munch” Jones is slated to begin March 10. Oddly enough, Jones is supposed to make an appearance in the same courtroom—5G—on Feb. 6, which is also reserved for what is a two week trial for Terrance Roberts.
Terrance Roberts had at one time been a hardened gangster. As a young teen, he fled his home after watching his mom battle addiction. He quickly got jumped into the Park Hill Bloods. Roberts dealt crack like a boss, attacked Crips with unrivaled vigor, survived multiple gunshots, and made it through several stints in prison.
Back then, Roberts was known as “Showbizz.”
Roberts’s father, 54 year-old George Roberts, said his son’s moniker meant business. “He used to be Showbizz. He didn’t play,” the elder Roberts, also known as Minister George, told The Daily Beast.
The pastor, who said he used to pimp out women and rob drug dealers in Oakland before finding religion, said that his son was a man to be feared—that he was unafraid to “put in work.”
The younger Roberts, who didn’t think he’d live past 19, knows he was respected on the streets: “I put in work and I was reputable.”
In jail, after he was fingered in an attack with a shank behind bars, he was sent off to the state penitentiary where he also found God. Rather than revere the deities of his youth—the big homies and original gangsters—he started reading the work of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other icons of peace. Quickly, he renounced his affiliations and started pledging his life to altruism.
Roberts was released from prison in 2004 after serving 11 years hard time. That’s when he founded the Prodigal Son Initiative, which provided refuge for local Denver youth to go to after school.
The street skills Roberts mastered were repurposed to raise incredible sums that he poured back into his hardscrabble community of Park Hill. A $5 million Boys and Girls Club bankrolled by local billionaire Philip Anschutz had become a symbol of the stewardship Roberts brought to a beloved part of Denver known as “the Holly.”
“Terrance has saved countless lives,” Aqueela Sherills, a 45-year-old former Grape Street Crip from L.A.’s dangerous Jordan Downs Housing Projects in Watts, told The Daily Beast. “I’ve seen him mediate firsthand. He’s a rockstar for the peace movement. A legend on the ground.”
Thanks to Roberts’s good works, the one-time gangbanger began mixing in with notables, including the city’s mayor. His Prodigal Son organization shared office space with State Senator and Obama administration education advisor Mike Johnston.
But that fast life was slowed on the morning of Sept. 20, 2013. For weeks, Roberts had organized an event entreating dignitaries and Denver’s populace to come to his section of Park Hill and partake in the “One Love Black Unity Rally.”
You see, Roberts stayed in touch with his old homies, too. He went to Nuggets games—a VIP suite, in fact—with Hasan “Munch” Jones. And Roberts connected the Park Hill Bloods with a National Geographic film crew who wanted to shoot them for the show “Drugs Inc.”
“Munch” and others thought they were going to be featured prominently in the episode. At most, the almost-staged scenes and moments with the Park Hill Bloods were mere glimpses in the episode’s b-roll. Some felt slighted and turned their beef toward Roberts.
“Munch” Jones, for one, got it in his head that Roberts—through all of his organizing and rubbing elbows with law enforcement—had become a snitch.
That’s how bullets came to fly at the peace rally.
They were Roberts’s bullets. Jones and a bunch of Park Hill Bloods were squatting on the still unfinished property of the Anschutz Boys and Girls Club gazebo. They were smoking weed and spewing insults.
“‘We’re taking this shit,’” Roberts remembers being told when he asked the men to move. “Munch said, ‘The homies got this.’”
And then they begin calling Roberts a “snitch.” Roberts, who vows he’s never colluded with cops ever, was willing to prove he wasn’t an informant. “Bitch ass nigga, snitch ass nigga” the Park Hill Bloods repeated.
To prove his was no cop collaborator, the stalk-built Roberts then got on the roof of his building and, with a sledgehammer, knocked off the antiquated video cameras that were bolted to the outside. (The cameras, he said, never functioned.) The gangbangers blaming Roberts for offering up his video to cops failed to consider the expensive, bulletproof police camera across the street that weighed all of three pounds.
Roberts carried the old school, analog cameras over to show them.
Not one to ever back down, Roberts was ready to tell over two dozen Bloods he was ready to fight for his name and honor. “‘If you guys won’t get off my property and if I’m such a snitch who wants to fight me?’” he asked them.
Nobody was willing to throw down. But the Bloods stayed put—and Roberts, badly outnumbered, couldn’t force them off.
By this point, neighbors began peeking their heads out of windows. Other Bloods were amassing. Roberts said he took Hasan “Munch” Jones to the side to reason with him. “I told him ‘Look, dog. Stay the fuck off my property. Leave me alone. Y’all not welcome here,’” he said. “’If I’m a snitch you can call me a snitch across the street.’”
After another plea to get off the property, Jones drew a weapon, Roberts said: “He pulls a knife out of his pocket. I see the wooden handle and the silver in the middle.”
The peace rally only hours away, Roberts said it was then that his cook and DJ arrived. They are quickly engulfed in a standoff with the hardest gangsters around.
“These are grown ass men,” Roberts said. “Some of them are nationally known. Many are from New York and Los Angeles and they’re looking at me and they still don’t know what to do with me.”
So Roberts walked away. He left the premises to buy $4,000 worth of furniture at Ikea and move into his spanking new Prodigal Son Initiatives at The Boys and Girls Club.
But the situation was no less tense when he returned. Roberts said he tried to reason with his former Blood brothers. (“Tell those fools to stay off my shit. I don’t want problems with y’all,” he said.) But the effort was met with laughs, including “Munch” Jones, who Roberts could hear in the background.
Roberts went back helping to set up for the rally. The cameras he’s knocked down with the sledgehammer was now resting on the ground by a rotisserie chicken with a knife through it and a note that read, “snitch and bitch.”
He said the Bloods are doing their call known as “su wooping.” Before long, “Munch” Jones and over 20 Bloods bumrushed Roberts on the Boys and Girls Club basketball courts riding their bicycles. “‘Bitch, snitch ass nigga su woop.’”
“We’re surrounded,” he said. “There were other Bloods coming from the other side too. They’re coming in cars and bikes now. They’re coming from all over.”
Again, Roberts tried to settle down Jones. “Why are you doing this to me, Munch?” Roberts asked.
“‘On Bloods, you a snitch,’” Roberts said he remembers Munch telling him. Robert called him an informant right back.
The dispute over the “Drugs Inc.” snub, coupled with the snitch tit-for-tat, sent the situation into overdrive.
Bloods were “all around,” Roberts said. And they were in battle mode with their red hoods over their heads.
Munch got off the bike and walked to a parked red truck nearby.
At that point, Roberts said he dashed to his truck, popped the trunk, and got out his Jimenez 9mm pistol.
A shootout didn’t seem to be certain. And Roberts had to balance in the incoming danger with his previous, decidedly non-violent commitments. “I also had $4,000 worth of Ikea furniture being delivered and I’m worrying about moving into the institute,” he said. “I had other stuff on my mind. And we’re running late for this rally because of these fucking Bloods.”
Then, according to Roberts, “Munch” made his move.
“‘Where’s he at?” Munch asked. He had lost Roberts for the moment he retrieved the pistol. “And they’re like ‘He’s over there, Blood.’ He tells these dudes, ‘Shit let’s go holler at him. Let’s fuck him up.’”
They begin “positioning themselves and coming at me,” according to Roberts. “I shot at pretty much all of them. I didn’t even know I shot Hasan that many times. I just know I shot.”
People who had come for the peace rally were scrambling for safety. On the ground was a bleeding Jones. Witnesses claim that Roberts later fired a second time.
Jones appears to have been given clemency by Roberts, who could have finished him off then and there. “He laid back and said ‘I’m boo, Blood, please don’t kill me.’”
Roberts agreed, saying, “I’m not going to kill you but you’re going to lay there and shut the fuck up.” Roberts said he backed up about 20 feet to allow Jones to get help by bystanders. With his pistol still in hand, he fended off other Bloods. “These Bloods are starting to regroup and I’m being yelled at: ‘You better get out of here!’”
Meanwhile, Roberts waited for the cops. “I was standing there and some of the Bloods are acting like they have pistols and they are going to attack me,” he said. “I stood there with my pistol and looking left and right making sure none of them lifted up at me.”
Cops ultimately arrived and Roberts surrendered. “The police said, ‘Put down your gun,’ and I put down my gun and backed up and put my hands behind my back and let them arrest me.”
Once cuffed and tossed in the police car, Roberts said he was now easy prey. “All the Bloods regrouped and tried to run up on me inside the police car to assault me.”
For Roberts, the incident was pure and simple self-defense. “These Bloods wanted to assault me and I was afraid for my life.”
He likens his plight that day to those who have successfully used a so-called “Stand Your Ground” defense.
“At no time did I leave my property to confront these Bloods.”
But Terrance Roberts wasn’t Jones’s only quarry. Terrance’s father, Minister George, told The Daily Beast he was also targeted by “Munch” Jones just days before baby “NyNy” was found dead.
“It was right before the baby incident,” George Roberts, who officiated the baby’s funeral, said. “I saw Jones was in the car and there was another car behind him and me and my neighbors were sitting on a picnic bench. As the car came down the alley the lights were turned off.”
That’s when gunfire erupted. “[In] the first car, Hasan was sitting in the front seat. I hear one of them say, ‘That’s the preacher.’”
George said he fell and scratched his knees during the shooting. He said he laid there and spoke to God. “I played like I had been shot and prayed,” he said.
While the pastor walked away with a few scratches, an elder man on a bicycle was shot six times in the legs and hands. They allegedly continued their shooting spree by firing at a group of supposed gang members sitting at bus stop nearby moments later, he said. It doesn’t appear that Hasan Jones was charged in this separate alleged incident.
Minister George said he believed that Jones’ dreams to become a big-time gangster doomed him to land in a dark place.
“He wants to be a Crenshaw Mafia Blood—but those are the same Bloods that got him in trouble and they going to get him to the penitentiary for the rest of his life.”
Still, George’s son regrets what happened. “I wasn’t losing my power. I had more power than any city organizer from New York to L.A.,” Terrance Roberts said. “I shot him for nothing?”