WEST PALM BEACH – After remaining a mystery for 11 years, the murder of little Michael Livingston Malcolm Jr. may have finally been solved. Now, the person charged in connection with his untimely death is the neighbor who discovered the five-year old’s lifeless body after he went missing in 1997.
Karla Sevilla, who was 15 at the time, has been linked to Michael’s murder through DNA evidence found under the little boy’s fingernails.
Sevilla reportedly found the body near her apartment and said at first that she had never seen him alive. When confronted with the DNA evidence, she later told detectives that she helped Michael fight off her mother’s boyfriend during an attack, according to WPBF News 25, the West Palm Beach-based ABC TV affiliate.
Police did not believe her story, and say the fact that she found the body is an indication of her hand in the murder.
“I think she inserted herself into the investigation in an effort to detract from the possibility that she was a suspect,’’ West Palm Beach Detective Alison Lichter told the news station.
Michael’s mother, Michie Robinson, was notified by detectives on Monday that a suspect had been charged in her son’s murder, according to WPBF.
“I think everybody wants justice when it comes to a child,’’ Robinson said.
Robinson’s lawyer, Charles Mancuso, told the South Florida Times that Michael was being cared for by his aunt on Oct. 9, 1997 at the Caribbean Villas apartment while his mother worked.
“He was told by his aunt to go get his cousin, who was in the community playground within the apartment complex only about 75 to 100 yards away. And he went and got his cousin,” Mancuso said.
The cousin, who skated back to the apartment on rollerblades, incorrectly assumed that Michael was behind him.
“[The aunt] asked where Mikey was and [the cousin] said, ‘He’s right behind me.’”
“He disappeared. They found him later during a search of the property about four to six hours later, murdered with a trash bag wrapped around his neck behind the dumpster,” Mancuso said.
“He was not beaten. He was not sexually assaulted…It was a complete snatch-and-grab, random killing. And the case has been cold until yesterday,” said Mancuso, who represented the family in a lawsuit against the security company of the apartment complex, and the apartment complex’s management. Mancuso said the lawsuit went to mediation, resulting in a confidential settlement.
Mancuso has a theory about why the murder went unsolved for so long.
“If he was a blond haired, blue-eyed child five-year old girl in Boca who was snatched, strangled and murdered in a fancy golf course community, there would’ve been the FBI helicopters flying over head, and news crews and “America’s Most Wanted’’…but what we had here was a young black child in a poor neighborhood with a poor mom who was, in my opinion, forgotten pretty quickly,” Mancuso said.
The TV news report indicates that Sevilla, who was already in jail when the DNA match was discovered, has been arrested more than a dozen times since 2000 on charges including domestic battery, robbery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, grand theft auto, burglary and fraud.
Mancuso said Robinson is very happy that someone will be held responsible for her son’s murder.
“Knowing that that person is not on the street, and not somebody that could be walking with her in the mall, or eating in the same restaurant with her anymore, or just being around there,” he said. “Mikey would’ve been 15 this year.”