Marines Suspected in Sergeant's Slaying

Two of four Marines charged with sergeant's death were under his command.

ByABC News via logo
November 7, 2008, 8:28 AM

Nov. 7, 2008 — -- When Marine Sgt. Jan Pawel Pietrzak was killed by a shot to the back of the head Oct. 15, he was nowhere near a desert battlefield and the killer was not an enemy combatant.

Pietrzak, 24, was murdered execution-style alongside his young new bride, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, in their California home near Camp Pendleton and police believe the killer was a fellow Marine.

Though court reports point to one shooter, four Marines have been charged in the double homicide -- two of whom were under Pietrzak's command.

Robbery was reportedly the motive for the crime.

"To burglarize their home and then to treat them in the way they did before they died and to murder them -- it's hard for our minds to comprehend this kind of savagery," District Attorney Rod Pacheco told "Good Morning America."

According to court papers, the three other suspects named 18-year-old Lance Cpl. Emrys John as the shooter.

All four said that 26-year-old Jenkins-Pietrzak was sexually assaulted, but each suspect said the other three did it. Lance Cpl. Kesaun Sykes, 21, reportedly confessed to cutting off her clothes. A fire was set in the home, apparently to destroy evidence of the crime.

Along with John and Sykes, 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Tyrone Miller and 20-year-old Pvt. Kevin Cox have been charged with the murders. All of the suspects have pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail. Miller and John worked in Pietrzak's unit, according to court documents.

Police reportedly found property from the couple's home in the home of some of the suspects.

While police work to find out what happened, the mothers of the slain newlyweds told "Good Morning America" that they are grappling with questions of their own. The couple had been married less than three months before they were killed.

"How could they?" said Jenkins-Pietrzak's mother, Glenda Faye Williams-Jenkins. "He was one of their own. He was their brother. ... It's like a nightmare and I haven't woke up yet."

"I absolutely don't understand this," Pietrzak's mother, Henryka Pietrzak-Varga, said. "I'm looking for answers and I cannot find them."

Born in Poland but raised in Brooklyn, Pietrzak enlisted in the Marine Corps after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and became a helicopter mechanic.