A Kansas man was booked on capital murder charges for the deaths of a pregnant woman who was carrying his unborn son, authorities said.
Devonte Dominique Wash, 26, of Kansas City, was ordered held on $5 million bail and scheduled to make his first court appearance since his arrest for killing Ashley Harlan, 23, who was pregnant when she was found dead inside a home in Olathe on Jan. 30, Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe announced Thursday.
Harlan was about 20 weeks along in her pregnancy and had planned to find out her child’s gender on the day she was shot and killed, the Kansas City Star reports. Police found her body after responding to a 911 call.
Friends told the newspaper that she had moved into her grandfather’s home in January to be closer to Wash in hopes of building a “happy family” for their unborn child.
“I’m heartbroken because she and her baby were taken from us,” Harlan’s friend, Kait Beeton, told the newspaper. “But I’m relieved to know he’s now behind bars and will remain there for life.”
Harlan had been acting differently before she was killed, according to Beeton, who was fearful that Wash’s children with two other women – and his posts on social media extolling his continuing love for the mothers – was taking a toll on their relationship.
“She seemed very controlled by him, which isn’t her nature,” Beeton wrote the newspaper. “She’s a natural leader, so I knew something was up just in the way she changed before everything happened.”
Tabitha Brown, who was going to be the child’s godmother, said Harlan had an ultrasound appointment scheduled on the day she was killed.
Neighbors, meanwhile, said they were relieved that a suspect in Harlan’s death was in custody.
“It was kind of strange and a little scary to know that they didn’t have, kind of, a big lead or that that person just walked away,” Olathe resident Katie Campbell told KCTV. “It was a little scary. I feel a lot better about it. It’s a terrible situation, but to know that person is no longer on the loose and can’t hurt anybody, it’s a good thing.”
If convicted, Wash will face the death penalty, the Star reports. Kansas law allows for a capital murder to be filed if the defendant knowingly or purposely killed or created a great risk of death to more than one person, according to the newspaper.
Beeton said she hopes Wash’s arrest gave her relatives a sense of closure. Harlan had been preparing in every possible way to give her son a good life, she said.
“I wish she was here,” Beeton told the newspaper. “I just hope this helps give everyone a bit of peace and allows her to rest now.”