CLEVELAND -- Police on Friday announced the arrest of a 10-year-old boy who is accused of killing his stepmother last month.
Shavonne Willis, 36, was shot dead on E. 121st Street on Sept. 26. Police initially said her stepson was present at the time of the shooting, but was uninjured. The suspect was first reported as a man in his 30s.
Police say the 10-year-old's father brought him to homicide detectives and the boy was placed under arrest. He was taken to the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center.
While authorities say the boy was the woman's stepson, family members claim she and the boy's father were not legally married, although they were together for 11 years.
The family of Shavonne Willis sat down for an exclusive interview with WKYC's Ray Strickland. They describe her as a woman who always smiled, and said she was loving and a joy to be around.
"She never was confrontational with nobody,” her first cousin Louis Davis said. “Nobody."
Family members Louise and Jameel Davis say they can’t believe she's gone.
"How can a person like this deserve this kind of treatment," Jameel said.
While the family claims Willis and the boy's father were never married, they say Shavonne raised the child from the moment he was born.
"He had his own publicist whether it's sports related or fashion. She was right there,” Jameel said. “She's bragging about him as if he came out the womb."
Louise says she will never understand why the boy would kill her.
“I don’t have an answer for that. That’s why I believe he didn’t carry it out by himself. I can't come up with an answer."
She says even his explanation of why he did it does not “add up”.
“Now that he is in custody, he said he got a 'whooping' and he blacked out."
The loss of Shavonne leaves behind a gaping hole. They say no one in their family has lost their life to gun violence. For it be Shavonne--the pain cuts deep.
"It’s hard,” she said. “I’m not going to see her again. It's hard. It's really hard."