55ºF

Police describe alleged events leading to West Bloomfield woman's death

Diana Pesserl found dead in burning car

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. – Police believe they have pieced together the disturbing puzzle of the murder of 31-year-old Diana Pesserl, who was found in West Bloomfield Friday in a burned car.

West Bloomfield police found Pesserl Friday morning in the trunk of her own car. They later discovered she had been shot in the abdomen.

DeSean Maurice Smith was charged Monday with open murder, arson and felony firearm.

Police said Smith was visiting a childhood friend just a few houses down from Pesserl, but that he has no connection to her.

Officials believe Pesserl was sitting in her car listening to music, which she often did, when Smith left his friend's house and allegedly killed her.

Smith told police he went outside for a smoke and got lost, stumbling into Pesserl, but his story didn't add up to police.

"A female corpse was later found in the truck and identified as Diana Pesserl," police said. "She had a bullet in her spine."

photo

Police said they immediately identified shoe prints at the scene. Investigation took them to another place, where Pesserl's car was seen.

"Witnesses heard a car horn going and a woman screaming," police said. "A female was observed running from the vehicle, followed by the same impressions at the scene of the burning vehicle."

Police stumbled upon Smith and a friend at a nearby boat ramp, and they later realized shoe prints there matched the ones at the crime scene.

"Shoe impressions in the driveway were consistent with those worn by DeSean Smith," police said.

The footprints led police back to Smith's friend's house, where officers said the friend made an incredible admission.

"Smith returned approximately an hour and a half later and showed (his friend) the butt of a firearm in his waistband," Detective Derek Kane said. "(Smith told his friend), '(Pesserl) tried to grab my pistol so I had to shoot her.' Detectives later found a .38 pistol and 10 rounds of ammunition."

Smith maintained his innocence Monday while facing murder charges in court.

"For myself, I'm not an escape risk," Smith told the judge. "I'm going to come to court. I don't have any problems. I'm not going to run, because I feel I didn't do anything wrong."

photo

But the judge denied Smith bond based on many factors, including that Smith had no relationship with Pesserl.

Police found Pesserl's pants, boots and phone in a separate location. They are investigating whether the incident could have been an attempted sexual assault.

Sign up for ClickOnDetroit Email Newsletters (click here) for more stories like this.


About the Authors: