Darshawn Morris was a menace and gang member who terrorized his Hagen Street neighborhood, according to residents there who knew him.
The fact that the 21-year-old Buffalo man is now also an accused killer, they said, is not surprising.
Morris was charged by Buffalo police late Wednesday with second-degree murder for allegedly stabbing 13-year-old Lanasha “Nay Nay” Rollerson to death in his second-floor apartment at 160 Hagen.
Police said Lanasha attended a late-night party there Saturday that spilled into the wee hours of Sunday morning.
It was the last time the young teenager and aspiring model would be seen alive.
Details of the killing were still being sorted out, but police detectives determined that the party wrapped up about 2 a.m. Lanasha died as a result of multiple stab wounds during an attack sometime during the following two hours, according to Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda.
Authorities were attempting to piece together what, if any, relationship Morris, who listed himself as “married” on his arrest report, may have had with the girl. Derenda said investigators were awaiting lab results to determine whether the victim was sexually assaulted.
Lanasha left home on her own, according to investigators, and before the party had been last seen late Saturday on Poplar Street, about two miles south of where her body was found late Tuesday night. Family members, who weren’t aware until Sunday afternoon that she had left home, reported her missing to police about 1 p.m. Sunday, officials said.
Her disappearance prompted the girl’s family to blanket the neighborhood and Internet with missing person fliers in what became a nearly three-day search for Lanasha.
“The tips came in fast and furious,” said Derenda. “The public really stepped up in this case.”
Lanasha’s body was discovered by police about 11 p.m. Tuesday behind a Newburgh Street garage bordering Morris’ backyard, following numerous tips from the public. Police think he stashed her body there.
Morris’ arrest, which occurred almost exactly 24 hours after Lanasha’s body was found, resulted from information obtained by police that he sought treatment at Erie County Medical Center.
A caller to The Buffalo News who claimed to be a relative of Lanasha said Thursday that Morris went to ECMC late Wednesday and told staff there he was “crazy” and was responsible for the girl’s death. Derenda wouldn’t disclose details about Morris’ hospital visit, but he was arrested at the medical center after he was discharged.
Derenda said Morris confessed to the killing after he was taken into custody.
The commissioner said no further arrests are expected in connection with Lanasha’s death. He also said Morris didn’t have a history of violent crime.
Or at least a history of being arrested for it, according to Morris’ neighbors.
Joyce Monroe, 24, the mother of two young children who has lived on Hagen for nearly a year, said Morris and his wife moved in across the street from her. Morris, she said, was “definitely a rowdy person” who regularly threw parties in his apartment.
“They brought all the drama,” Monroe said of Morris and his associates, adding that the group was suspected of vandalism, fighting and gunplay in the neighborhood.
That’s why Monroe said she refused to allow her children, aged 3 and 5, to play outside.
Monroe hopes Morris’ arrest will mean fewer gang members on her street. She’s not the only one.
“This is the quietest the street’s ever been,” said another neighbor who has lived on the same block of Hagen for about four years.
The woman, who declined to give her name, called Morris “nothing but trouble,” saying that she was a frequent caller to 911 because of the exploits of Morris and “all his little peers” in her neighborhood. Those exploits, she said, included gunfire, robbery, graffiti and, in one instance, charging around the street with homemade torches they made from 2-by-4s dipped in gasoline.
Another neighbor, who has lived on Hagen for 33 years, said of Morris: “When he moved in, the street became ugly.”