Murdered Woman’s Parents Blame Police

     OMAHA (CN) – Omaha police and a mental health clinic let a domestic abuse suspect with an outstanding warrant “walk freely” out of custody and murder his estranged girlfriend, her family claims in court.
     Mikael Loyd murdered Melissa Rodriguez in 2013, strangling her and dumping her in an open grave. He pleaded no-contest to second-degree murder in April 2014 and was sentenced to 30 to 35 years in prison.
     Rodriguez’s family criticized prosecutors for the plea deal, pointing out that with good time and time served, Loyd could get out of prison in less than 14 years.
     “Her life was worth so much more than what the judge gave for a sentence Tuesday, and that is just what is appalling,” her mother Angela Rodriguez said at the time.
     Melissa Rodriguez was a college student. Her parents sued Omaha and the agency that was treating Loyd for mental problems: Catholic Health Initiatives, the CHI Health Alegent Creighton Clinic, and Lasting Hope Recovery Center of Catholic Health Initiatives.
     The June 16 lawsuit in Douglas County Court paints a dire picture of incompetence by police and mental health officials.
     Loyd, who confessed to the murder days after he returned to the facility, had twice called the Omaha Police Department in the previous weeks, asking to be arrested.
     Only after Loyd met with Omaha police officers and expressed “a desire to kill” was he taken into investigative custody and turned over to the Lasting Hope Recovery Center. He already had been diagnosed as schizophrenic and bipolar.
     Despite an outstanding warrant for domestic abuse charges that also involved Rodriguez, police declined to put Loyd in jail on several occasions, preferring that he remain in custody at Lasting Hope, the family says.
     “Foreseeably,” the complaint states, “while under the Emergency Protective Custody hold and without supervision or authority, Loyd left the Lasting Hope facility, found Melissa, coerced her out of her home, and then killed her.”
     After meeting Rodriguez at a park on Aug. 14, 2013, he strangled her and dragged her body to an open grave in Graceland Park Cemetery, where a cemetery worker found her the next morning.
     Loyd returned to Lasting Hope that evening and asked its staff wash his clothes, which were “dirty and stained following the murder,” according to the complaint.
     The staff complied and washed his clothes, destroying evidence in the process, the family says.
     Rodriguez’s parent, Angela and Adan Rodriguez, seek $21,201 in burial expenses and punitive damages for wrongful death, pain and suffering and negligence.
     They are represented by Megan Mikolajczyk with the Domina Law Group.

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