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Suspect in Amber Alert turns himself in

Marcus Hightower in police custody

DETROIT – A suspect in the disappearance of a 4-year-old girl has turned himself in to police in Detroit.

Police have said 33-year-old Marcus Hightower was the last person seen with Savannah Walker. Michigan State Police issued an Amber Alert Saturday for the girl.

Hightower, who was dating Walker's mother, turned himself in early Sunday morning. He has not been arrested or charged.

However, police are trying to determine if the bodies of a girl and a woman found Saturday in an abandoned, burned house in the 4700 block of Lakeview Street on Detroit's east side are connected to the disappearances of Savannah and her mother. Autopsies were scheduled to be conducted.

“We have not confirmed the identity of the female and the child that were found in the house that was burned,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said. “Preliminarily, we believe it could be the missing mother and daughter, but we haven’t confirmed that.”

Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said the Amber Alert will remain active until the identities of the bodies are confirmed.

Mother, daughter go missing

Savannah and her mother were reported missing Tuesday. Savannah’s older sister reported the two of them missing in Livingston County. They are residents of Howell.

The older sister tells Local 4, she told police Tuesday she believed her mother had been killed by someone.

“I told them about her on Tuesday and nothing was done until Friday,” the sister said.

Craig said that the initial report was made to the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office and it’s possible something should have been done then. When pressed if the delay may have cost lives in this situation, Craig said, “I don’t want to be overly critical because it’s still early in the investigation, certainly there were indications early on that something more should have been done.”

Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte told Local 4 a deputy responded to a 911 call Tuesday and advised the family member to file an Amber Alert with Michigan State Police, which is the only agency with authority to do so. The deputy was also able to locate the last activity of the missing woman’s cellphone—somewhere on Gratiot in Detroit. He told the family member to contact Ann Arbor police or Detroit police. It’s unclear if she did that before Friday.

Late Saturday afternoon, Bezotte defended his department, saying the deputy in charge began investigating immediately after receiving the report.

It was reported that Savannah and her mother were last seen with Hightower on Cadillac Boulevard in Detroit.

Allegations of abuse

The older daughter also details a history of abuse between her mother and Hightower. She says he bit her forehead on New Year’s Eve, leaving her bloodied. She also says he beat and choked her throughout their six-month relationship.

Police confirmed there was a history of domestic abuse between the mother and Hightower.

“I told him three weeks ago, ‘If anything ever happens to my mother or my sister, I’ll know it’s you,’” said the older daughter, who last spoke to her mother a week ago via text. “And look what’s happened.”

Hightower has a history of criminal violence and is on parole for assault with intent to commit murder..

He was reportedly traveling in a black 2004 Ford Explorer with a Michigan license plate DFJ 5377 which was discovered on Detroit’s east side.

Police spent Saturday searching for Hightower. He was considered armed and dangerous.

“You will not hide, you cannot hide,” Craig said. “We will find you.”

Saturday night, detectives combed through the home of Hightower's relative. Cadaver dogs were used to search for evidence Savanna or her mother had been there.

That home on Cadillac and Kerchival is less than three miles from where the body of the woman and child were discovered.

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