Mercy for Troubled Wisconsin Boy Charged in Mom's Murder, Grandmother Pleads

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Facebook
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Facebook

The Milwaukee 10-year-old charged as an adult with fatally shooting his mother after she refused to buy him a virtual reality headset tells his family that he is still on Santa’s list.

“He said Santa’s bringing him some things for Christmas,” his grandmother, Lueritha Mann, told The Daily Beast on Thursday.

The boy, whose name is being withheld because of his age, expressed a holiday wish from the juvenile detention facility where he is being held on $50,000 bail for allegedly killing his mother, 44-year-old Quiana Mann.

“He said yesterday, ‘Can we go to the house and decorate it for Christmas? Put up the Christmas tree and decorate the outside of the house?’” Lueritha reported. “If he can’t come to help, he wants us to go and do it. We told him we would do that.”

Events such as decorating for Christmas, elaborate birthday parties and trips to far-off places were part of Quiana’s effort to help the youngest of her four children cope with psychiatric disturbances.

“He’s always said that he hears voices,” Lueritha said. “There’s two little girls inside his head telling him to do things. And he has an imaginary friend that will tell him to do really bad things.”

He has long had difficulty sleeping and the voices become particularly intense in the early morning hours.

“He said that his thoughts and everything starts generating at 5 or 6 in the morning,” Lueritha said. “Sometimes four o’clock.”

He has struggled at school.

“He tried to do the right thing , but he couldn’t do it right,” Lueritha said. “And he was bullied a lot, really bad.”

Two years ago, he fell off of a swing at school and hit the back of his head, suffering a concussion.

“So that just meshed with the mental illness and it just kind of spiraled and made him worse,” Lueritha said. “It was bad. Sometimes he would have these episodes where he was just kind of mean to [his mother].”

He did not seem to register his impact on her anymore than he did his puppy’s howls when he swung it around by its tail.

“He didn’t pick up on a lot of things,” Lueritha said. “He talks intelligent, but he doesn’t understand a lot of things. And he would cry a lot.”

Six months ago, he filled a balloon with a flammable liquid and ignited it. The resulting fire spread to a carpet and furniture in the living room before it was extinguished. He afterwards told his family that the two little girls in his head told him to do it. He called the duo “sisters” and offered some insight into his alternative reality when he described one little girl as an elderly woman and the other as an unpleasant man.

Quiana had been taking her son to a therapist whose diagnosis confirmed the severity of his illness. She got daily reports from his school whether he had disrupted the class on that particular day. And there was no shortage of people willing to do what they could to assist her.

“We tried helping her with him,” Lueritha said. “All of us, everybody that knows her, even her church people. We all tried helping her with him because we knew he had a mental illness.”

As she continued the effort to cheer and stabilize her son, Quiana managed to work as a health-care coordinator and came within three credits of a master’s degree—even attending Holy Temple Firstborn Church and singing in a gospel choir called the Disciplettes.

Together, she and her son went to Disneyland last Christmas and to New York in June. They flew off to Puerto Rico in early November, returning last week.

He appeared to like the trips, but wherever they went he seemed unable to shake off his inner torment.

“I don’t know if he was ever really happy,” Lueritha said. “Unless, you know, he was getting something.”

The family says he would sometimes steal his mother's credit cards to buy things online. He was certainly not happy when she stopped him from buying an Occulus virtual reality headset.

On Nov. 22, the boy climbed out of bed in the early morning hours when his voices are most active. He would later say that he was angry because his mother had awakened him at 6 a.m., when he wanted to sleep for another half-hour.

Around 7 a.m., he went into the second-floor bedroom where his 26-year-old real-life sister, Brianna Moore, sleeps.

“He told her to come, he thinks mama’s dead,” Lueritha reported.

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The boy led Moore to the basement, where mother lay dead in a pool of blood. She called 911 and Lueritha.

“She said, ‘Something happened and it’s bad,” the grandmother recalled. “I said, ’Well, what happened? Is everybody OK?’ She said, ‘No, mama, it’s bad.’”

As recounted by the subsequent criminal complaint, the boy initially told the police that he took the gun from his mother’s bedroom and descended to the basement, where she was tending to some laundry.

“He originally described twirling the gun around on his finger and then it ‘accidentally went off,’” the complaint says. “Due to age considerations, [the boy] was allowed to remain with family.”

A maternal aunt, Sharhonda Reid, came to take the boy to her home. She asked him where the house keys were kept and he retrieved a set from his bedroom, telling her he had hid them from his mother.

“When [the boy’s] aunt looked at the set of keys, she noticed a small key on the key ring that was for [Quiana’s] gun lock box,” the criminal complaint notes. “When his aunt questioned [the boy] further, he altered the story that he had earlier told the police. [The boy] told his aunt that he was actually aiming the gun at his mother.”

The complaint reports what the boy said he held the gun in both hands and assumed a “shooting stance.” His mother uttered her last words.

“Why do you have that? Put that down.’”

The boy spent the night with Reid. He had some unfinished business.

“[The boy] logged on to the deceased’s Amazon account, accessed the account, and ordered an Oculus Virtual Reality Headset,” the complaint says. “This purchase was made by {the boy] during the morning of November 22, 2022, following their mother’s death.”

Later that morning, Reid took the boy to see grieving Lueritha.

“Upon arrival, when [the boy] saw his grandmother crying, he stated without any empathy or compassion: ‘I’m really sorry for what happened. I’m sorry for killing my mom,’” the complaint says. “After apologizing for killing his mother, asked if his Amazon package arrived.”

The family had called the police. Lueritha spoke to the boy before detectives arrived.

“He said, ‘It was an accident, but what was an accident to me may not seem like an accident to everybody else,’” she recalled.

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The family apprised the detectives of the boy’s psychiatric history and said the killing might have been recorded by cameras Quiana had installed in the house—but somebody had unplugged them two weeks before.

The detectives questioned him after reading him his rights.

“During this Mirandized interview, [the boy] admitted that he was not twirling the gun around when he shot his mom,” the complaint says. “He admitted that his mother would not allow him to have something from Amazon that he wanted to have… [The boy] admitted getting his mother’s set of keys the night before… He admitted that he shot her in the face when she was approximately three feet away from her. After shooting his mother, he put the gun in the living room closet.”

The complaint notes, “The bullet entered through the victim’s right eye, traveled through the victim’s brain, and then, bullet fragment(s) exited out the back side of the victim’s head through her skull. The victim’s face had stippling on it, indicating that the gun was fired at the victim at close range.”

On Nov. 25, the boy was allowed to remain at a juvenile detention facility while an initial hearing was held in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. He was assigned attorney Robin Dorman.

“Extensive discussion took place prior to the case being called on the record,” the court papers note.

The Milwaukee Court district attorney decided that a 10-year-old with a long history of mental illness and hearing multiple voices should be tried as an adult. Judge Kristela Cervera set bail at $50,000 and ruled that the boy be allowed one phone call a day.

Lueritha reports that the boy calls her home every day at 6 p.m.

“We spoke to him recently and he said that he wanted to write a letter to the judge and ask the judge if he could please put some type of monitor on him, some electrode on him so he could come home,” she said. “If he did, if he had bad thoughts or got ready to do anything bad that it would, it would shock him or electrocute him or something.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Lueritha sat at home, looking at photographs of her daughter and grandson.

“She loved being a mom,” Lueritha said.

Lueritha came to a photo of his third birthday party.

“His birthday parties were fabulous,” she said. “The table is set up so beautiful. The balloons, The gifts. The cake.”

That was the year before the baby started doing things like spinning his puppy around by its tail as it howled.

The boy was now being held as an adult charged with First Degree Reckless Homicide.

“They decided, ‘We’re just gonna throw the book at him,” she said.

Lueritha is certain that prosecution of her son as an adult is not at all what her daughter would want.

“She would want us to do everything that we could to help him,” Lueritha said.

Neither the Milwaukee District Attorney nor the boy’s attorney responded to a request for comment.

Quiana Mann’s funeral is set for Friday at the Holy Temple Firstborn church. Attendees are asked to wear pink, her favorite color. Masks are strongly recommended, as befits someone in health care.

Her son’s next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 7. The family will be setting up the tree and decorating the house without the help of the boy who believes he is still on Santa’s list.

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