Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin announced the tragic conclusion to the massive, multiday search for the missing siblings during a Friday news conference.
“It’s saddening,” Franklin said. “But also from our perspective, we’re elated that we’re able to bring closure. And this is closure because we were able to actually locate those two and bring them home to their families.”
Miracle Crook, 3, was last seen alive with her younger brother, Tony Crook, 2, walking down an embankment toward a creek in east Tulsa on Friday, May 22.
The surveillance footage recovered from Shoreline Apartments, where the children lived, led police to believe the two were swept away in Mingo Creek, which flows into the Verdigris River and ultimately the Arkansas River, at the mouth of which authorities recovered the girl’s body.
Franklin said it appeared the children walked through an open section of the chainlink fence along Mingo Creek and down steps carved into the cement embankment.
Police awaited the medical examiner’s office confirmation of the body’s identity before releasing the information to the public, but most had already surmised the connection.
The children’s mother, Donisha Willis, is in the Tulsa County jail on two complaints of child neglect after former conviction of a felony and one count of assault and battery on a police officer after former conviction of a felony.
Willis, who was on probation, did not have custody of the children, but allegedly broke into the apartment where they were Thursday night and assaulted their caretaker, according to an arrest report.
The caretaker reportedly left the children under Willis’ supervision Friday mid-morning, and he and their legal guardian returned that night to find Willis passed out, intoxicated, on the couch; the children nowhere to be found, the report states.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said a decision to file charges is never taken lightly, “and it will be no different in this case.”
“It’s the duty of the DA’s office to set aside the obvious emotions and do the job for which we were hired to do,” he said, adding that the appropriate decision will be made after his office can review the reports they’ve received.
The presumption of innocence remains, Kunzweiler said, for anyone arrested prior to adjudication.
When asked whether charges against Willis could be upgraded due to the outcome of the search for her children, he said now is not the time to speculate on the criminality of this emotional case. Rather, this is a time to come together and mourn.
“I think I’d rather the focus be on those two kids and let our community grieve for them appropriately,” Kunzweiler said. “We’ll deal with the other stuff as time comes forward. I’ve got a job to do. We’re going to review what the Tulsa Police Department’s given to us.”
Photos: The search for Miracle and Tony Crook brings community together