It wasn't until she turned on the news and saw her daughter's house in flames that a Babylon woman realized why two of her daughters weren't returning her phone calls, she testified Wednesday in Suffolk County Court.
The last time Sandra Daniels saw her daughter Mykier, 28, was on Aug. 10, 2009, just before Mykier moved out of a shelter with the help of her friend Louis Calixto Jr., 19. They were going with Mykier's two children to stop at the Central Islip home of another daughter, Katrice, 31, afterward, their mother testified.
Daniels testified at the trial of Katrice Daniels' boyfriend, Hasan Vaughan, and Thomas Singletary, both 36 and of Central Islip. They are accused of killing Calixto and the Daniels daughters, before setting the house on fire early in the morning on Aug. 11, 2009. They are charged with first-degree murder and arson.
During questioning by Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla, Daniels said she was going to help both daughters move to new apartments the next morning, but neither would answer their phones.
"I turned the news on, and I see the news is over Hickory Street," in Central Islip, Daniels said. "I knew it was Katrice's house."
As she left to go the house, she said Southside Hospital in Bay Shore called to say her grandchildren were there. So she went there instead and found a detective with Mykier's children.
"I looked at the detective, and I asked the detective, 'Are they dead?' And he just nodded," Daniels said.
During a brief cross-examination by Vaughan's attorney, William Keahon of Hauppauge, Daniels said Katrice had told her recently that Vaughan had been shot dead. Other witnesses have said Katrice Daniels told them the same thing.
Earlier, jurors heard about the event that prosecutors say was behind the attack. Suffolk police Officer Alicia Bentz testified that on Aug. 8, she went to Vaughan's apartment, where he had reported a burglary.
A brick or rock had been thrown through his window, and Vaughan said someone had taken a Sony laptop computer and a necklace.
"He said he really needed the laptop back because he was working on something that was really important to him," Bentz said.
Keahon has said the laptop contained a novel Vaughan wrote that described drug dealing and retaliatory murders.
Moments later, as Bentz was writing her incident report, she said Vaughan told her he knew who stole the computer. Bentz said she asked who it was.
"Don't worry about it," Vaughan said, according to Bentz. "I'm going to take care of it on my own."
Biancavilla has said the victims took part in the burglary and that Vaughan recruited Singletary to seek revenge against them.