Milwaukee Mom Battered Day Before Her And Daughters' Bodies Found

Feb 16, 2020

Updated at 4:19 p.m. CT

A woman who was found slain in a Milwaukee garage along with her two daughters had been beaten up by her boyfriend the day before she was reported missing — and just hours after the funeral of the couple's young son, according to a criminal complaint.

The bodies of 26-year-old Amarah Banks, 5-year-old Zaniya Ivery and 4-year-old Camaria Banks were discovered Sunday afternoon after police interviewed Arzel Ivery. Ivery, 25, had been arrested in Tennessee on a fugitive from justice warrant and told police where they could find the bodies.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said Banks and her daughters were killed, but he didn't say how they died. Autopsies were scheduled for Monday.

Ivery was charged in Milwaukee County with felony aggravated battery in connection with the assault on Banks. He was arraigned Monday in Memphis, Tenn., on the fugitive from justice warrant, but has not been charged in the homicides. Online court records do not list an attorney for him on the assault charge.

Banks' and Ivery's 1-year-old son, Arzel Ivery Jr., had a history of asthma and died Jan. 24 from respiratory problems, according to autopsy reports. His funeral was held Feb. 7.

According to a criminal complaint, in the early morning hours of Feb. 8, witnesses heard Banks screaming, “No, no, please don't kill me” as Ivery dragged her back into an apartment building after she tried to escape during a fight. One neighbor said Banks was running without shoes and bleeding from the mouth.

A neighbor called 911, and police call logs show officers responded but couldn't locate the complainant. That usually means police couldn't find the person who called 911.

Police began a missing persons investigation on Feb. 9.

According to the criminal complaint, Banks and her daughters went to a relative's home after her son's funeral and the relative drove them back to her home in the early morning hours of Feb. 8. Family members hadn't heard from Banks since then.

As police were investigating their disappearance, Ivery told police he went to Banks' apartment around 1:30 a.m. Feb. 8. The two got into an argument "because Ms. Banks blamed [Ivery] for the death of their son," the complaint said.

Ivery told police that Banks went outside during the argument and he had to "coach" her back inside. He told police he left to go sleep in his truck and didn't know where Banks and the children were. He also told police he was out of state, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

But neighbors told police they heard Ivery beating Banks, and one witness said she heard thumping as if someone was slamming a person or head against the wall. Police later found a head-sized hole in the wall of the bedroom, as well as a bed missing its comforter and a napkin blood on it.

The criminal complaint says that at one point in the investigation, Ivery's father called police to report that his son had arrived at his home in Memphis and that Ivery said he killed Banks and her daughters.

Early Saturday, Memphis authorities called Milwaukee police to tell them they had made contact with Ivery. Milwaukee detectives went to Memphis to talk to Ivery and he directed them to the garage where the bodies were found. The garage is behind an apartment building that's listed as Ivery's address.

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