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Long IslandSuffolk

Suspect in mom, tot slay stays in Maryland

A photo of Shakeela Planter with her son,

A photo of Shakeela Planter with her son, Jaiden. Photo Credit: Handout

Six days after authorities think Shakeela Planter and her 2-year-old son Jaiden were killed in their North Bay Shore apartment, the man police suspect in the slayings showed up unexpectedly at his family's home in Laurel, Md.

The man's grandmother said she prepared a Christmas Eve breakfast for Jerry A. Lewis, 24, after his arrival.

"We didn't know anything happened," Gladys Watson, 74, the grandmother, said in an interview at the Watsons' Laurel home. "We thought he had a fight with her [Planter] and she put him out."

But when his mother, Violet Watson, came home that evening, Lewis cried, the grandmother said. They spoke behind closed doors. Soon after, Lewis, accompanied by family members, turned himself in to Laurel police. He faces second-degree murder charges in the deaths of Planter, 21, and her toddler son.

Lewis on Tuesday refused to waive extradition to Suffolk County, and a Prince George's County District Court judge ordered him to be held without bond. An extradition hearing was set for Jan. 27.

Suffolk police suspect Planter was killed early Dec. 18, not long after her Saturday night shift ended in the dietary department at Huntington Hospital.

Lewis lived part-time in the same South Cardinal Court apartment as the two victims did and had baby-sat Jaiden, police said. His grandmother said he grew up in Jamaica, like Planter, and had only been in the United States for two years, living most of the time in New Jersey.

Lewis showed up at the railroad station in New Carrollton, Md., just outside Washington, on Christmas Eve morning and called his mother, who was at work at the time, Gladys Watson said Tuesday.

Gladys Watson said Lewis arrived at the home at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday. She said he was wearing jeans and a red or orange shirt. She said that he slept for a while, and when he woke up, she made him a breakfast of plantains, two slices of bread, an egg and a slice of ham.

He still did not say why he was there, Gladys Watson said.
At one point, Gladys Watson said she asked him: "Why you still bad, son?" She said he answered: "Me not know."

When Violet Watson, 52, a house cleaner, arrived home about 6:30 or 7 p.m. Saturday, Gladys Watson said, Lewis was sitting on the couch, watching TV, and he "jumped up and started to cry."

The mother and son then went into the bedroom to talk, and when they emerged, Violet Watson called several people, including a cousin, the grandmother said. After that, the cousin and Violet Watson took Lewis to the Laurel police station, not far from their home.

Lewis walked into the Laurel police station and "said he wanted to turn himself in for a murder in New York," Laurel police spokesman Jim Collins said Tuesday.
Suffolk homicide commander Det. Lt. Gerard Pelkofsky said Monday the two had formerly been "boyfriend-girlfriend."

Planter's landlord, who lives upstairs, went to check on her in the basement apartment and found her body about 5:15 p.m. Friday, police said.

She had been stabbed several times, and Jaiden was found in the freezer during a police search, Pelkofsky said.

With Tania Lopez, Gary Dymski, Ellen Yan, Aisha Al-Muslim and Kery Murakami

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