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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]

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Triple Murder Mystery: How the Love Lives of 3 Detroit Men Turned to Tragedy

By |2020-08-06T12:06:05-04:00July 30th, 2020|Michigan, News|

Their funerals took place on the same day, just a mere three miles down the road from each other. But in life, DeAndree Raeynard Max Watson, 30, and Quentin Demar DeGreaffenried, 27, both of Detroit, traveled in different circles. Their paths would tragically intersect, though, thanks to a third man, 25-year-old De’Ontez Tyree Jones, who is believed to have killed them both.

Watson’s death has been well-covered by local media. He was a rising star in Detroit politics, a policy analyst for Detroit City Councilman James Tate and, by all accounts, a beloved figure around the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. Both Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit City Council President praised him upon his passing.

Watson was found dead in his car, a 2020 black Cadillac CTS, just outside the Willow Creek Apartments in Westland on Sunday, July 5. He had been shot to death. A short time later, police found the body of Jones dead in an apartment in the complex of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

 

The First Victim

But while the story came to a tragic end in Westland, the family of DeGreaffenried is committed to spreading the word that it started in Detroit more than a week earlier, with the death of their loved one. Que, as he was sometimes called, had both a biological family and a foster family. He was good-natured and, according to his best friend Ashante Gooden, the life of the party.

Quentin DeGreaffenried had been seeing De’Ontez Jones off and on for the last four years. DeGreaffenried’s body was discovered in his Northwest Detroit apartment on July 29. Authorities estimate he had been dead for three days. Before he died, Jones posted an apology to DeGreaffenried’s family on Instagram.

“There was never a dull moment with Quentin. Even though he had foster parents who raised him, he loved his biological family as much as he enjoyed his foster family. He had nicknames for everybody. He would always make you laugh.”

A graduate of Dakota High School in Macomb, DeGreaffenried attended Macomb Community College for a time, as well as Specs Howard School of Broadcasting. He was interested in being a radio personality or perhaps even a veterinarian.

“He had a lot of friends,” said his grandmother, Rosa Hayes. “He was very giving, very loving. He loved people and he loved animals, too.”

DeGreaffenried and Jones had been in an on-again-off-again relationship for the past four years. All along, friends and family say, it had been volatile.

“Quentin’s personal life was out of whack,” Hayes said. “He went with De’Ontez Jones and De’Ontez was a fighter, an abuser and Quentin couldn’t shake him. He’s not a fighter. He’s timid. Quentin would leave him and then he’d get right back into it.”

Hayes said she knew it was bad, but, initially at least, not how bad.

“Quentin didn’t want me to dislike him. I was genuinely nice to him but it was difficult. I even talked to De’Ontez about it and he pretended that Quentin was not really telling the truth. Then it would happen again, a black eye or busted lip.”

De’Ontez Jones was allegedly seeing Watson and Quentin DeGreaffenried – as well as possibly others – at the same time. Jones would be found dead in an apartment in the Willow Creek complex shortly after authorities discovered Watson’s body. He was dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

If Hayes didn’t know how bad it was, Gooden, did.

“The whole four years they were together, De’Ontez was beating Quentin,” she said. “I would tell him over and over again, ‘Friend, leave.’ One day, he hit Quentin with an iron, and Quentin had to jump out of his second-floor window. De’Ontez went to jail but Quentin went back to him. He was living in Southfield Heights. They didn’t want to renew his lease because of all the disturbances. They knew Quentin was getting beat.”

By the end, things were undeniably bad.

“He would say, ‘If anything happens to me, it’s Sean,’” Hayes said. “He called De’Ontez Sean. He would tell me all the time. I always felt like Quentin [was going to erupt] and hurt Sean. Either way, it’s going to be bad because you’re going to jail. I’d ask him, ‘Why don’t you just leave?’ He would tell me he was going to and then, next thing I knew, I’d see a post on Facebook that they were back together. Then I wouldn’t hear from him until things went bad again. He’d say, ‘He left with my check and I need money to pay my light bill.’”

 

The Common Denominator

Sean was one of several names Jones went by, and DeGreaffenried, though Jones always went back to him, was only one of several men Jones was involved with, according to both Hayes and Gooden.

“He was very elusive,” said Jey’nce Mizrahi Poindexter, the unofficial godmother of Black, gay Detroit.

She had known Jones for about five years and considered him her son.

“He had different pages on social media and different names he went by,” Poindexter said. “He’d pop in and pop out. So I just would try to help him and deal with him when I talked to him, but it was hard to keep up with him and know what was going on.”

After the iron incident, Jones received probation. He turned to Poindexter, who was a transgender victim’s advocate for Equality Michigan, and did his community service hours at the agency.

“He was very sweet,” Poindexter said. “There was definitely a good side to him. When he could get his head out of the confusion, he would talk with you and he was funny and silly and just cool to be around.”

After a while, Poindexter came to recognize what she called Jones’s “confusion” when it would appear.

“He would think people were out to get him or feel like he couldn’t trust this person or trust that person,” she said. “I can’t diagnose or prognose, but I know he had definitely mentioned some stuff to men that I responded with, ‘Don’t listen to the confusion, drown out the noise.’ He had made some mistakes. He was trying to work, trying to hustle.

“I never judged,” Poindexter continued. “I think he was comfortable with me and talking with me because I never judged him. I loved him right where he was at the moment he was connecting to me. I was just glad that I was able to help him for the time that I knew him.”

During the good times Jones, Poindexter said, had an appreciation for the finer things in life.

“He liked nice things. So we had that in common,” she said. “He’d always say, ‘Ma, you dress so nice.’ He’d walk through my closet and look at my stuff and we had some really nice moments.”

Poindexter and Jones drifted apart somewhat after his community service was completed. Jones and DeGreaffenried reconciled yet again and, according to DeGreaffenried’s friends and family, Jones continued to see other men on the side. One of those men was Watson, whom DeGreaffenried knew about and referred to as the “city council man.”

“Quentin would talk to me and he would mention the ‘city council man,’” said Hayes. “He would never tell me no names. I knew it was somebody in that group, that setting. De’Ontez Jones, he was a manipulator. He would find young men and just con them. He liked to use people. De’Ontez Jones drove everybody’s car. He would find young prosperous men and he would use them. But my understanding, from listening to his friends, they would say that Sean really loved Quentin but he used everybody else. There’s been a lot of them.

“DeAndree was one of the people that Sean was using as well,” Hayes continued. “Sean wouldn’t leave DeAndree alone because that was his money and he wouldn’t leave Quentin alone because he really loved him.”

Through it all, DeGreaffenried would continue to vent to Gooden. She saw her best friend for the last time on June 11.

“He said, ‘Ashante, he’s leaving me,’” she recalled. “Sean called Quentin and said, ‘I’m going to California and when I go, you’re going to be surprised who goes with me.’”

DeAndree Watson, an up-and-coming star in Detroit politics and a policy analyst for Detroit City Councilman James Tate, poses in front of his new Cadillac CTS on June 18 while traveling cross-country to California with De’Ontez Jones. “Headed to LA completely unaware of what’s about to happen,” he posted to Instagram. On July 5, his lifeless body would be found in the car by Westland Police after an Onstar alert called them to the parking lot outside the Willow Creek Apartments.

According to Gooden, Jones left for California on June 17. Watson went with him and they drove across the country in his new car. Gooden believes there were others with them, but this could not be confirmed. Throughout the duration of the trip, Jones would continue to call DeGreaffenried. Though they were broken up for the moment, Jones had left some belongings in DeGreaffenried’s apartment and wanted them back.

“He would call Quentin and threaten him and tell him he was going to whip his ass and he wanted his stuff,” Gooden said. “Quentin was afraid to let Sean in the apartment. … I believe my friend started to live in fear. He was afraid for his life. I believe he knew Sean was going to come after him and kill him. Sean used to always keep a gun, a black 9[mm].”

Jones was back in Michigan by June 25.

“Quentin called me that afternoon and said that Sean wanted him to go to Westland to drink,” Gooden said. “Sean told him he had weed and everything. I was like, ‘No, you shouldn’t go out there. Leave him alone.’ An hour later, Quentin called me and I heard them arguing.”

That was the last time Gooden heard her friend’s voice. She went days without hearing from him before reaching out to this family. She feared the worst, and when Hayes and her daughter Adrienne went to check on DeGreaffenried on Monday, June 29, they were met by a host of flies and an awful stench outside his window. The police were called and they discovered his decomposing body inside. Dead from multiple gunshot wounds, the authorities determined he had been dead since Friday, July 26.

Word of DeGreaffenried’s death traveled quickly amongst his friends and associates, and, soon enough, tributes began to pour into his Facebook page.

“When I first heard about it, I thought that De’Ontez had been killed,” Poindexter said. “I was crying, going crazy, and I was talking to one of my friends, who also knows De’Ontez, and he was like, ‘No, sister, your son is on the run for the murder.’”

As news continued to spread about the killing, posts began appearing on Jones’ Instagram account.

“I can’t even explain what happened because people gone believe what they want to believe out here,” the first post read. “Just know I’m hurt also. I’m completely broken over this. That was my boyfriend, that was my home.”

DeGreaffenried’s family shared all of this information with the police. Jones spent the rest of the week on the run, but, by the end of it, he was posting to Instagram again. His birthday was coming up on July 11, and he hinted that he planned to take his life on that day.

“Imma wait it out till my birthday & baby I’m with you,” he posted.

Then, just hours later, he posted twice more.

“Soooooo sorry to Quentin’s family,” read the first. The second: “mom I’m soo sorry.”

 

The Last Act

Though DeGreaffenried’s family believes Jones was driving Watson’s car when drove to DeGreaffenried’s apartment and killed him, what, if any other, role Watson played in the whole matter is unknown. Friends say the highly regarded Detroit City Council aid was only recently coming out of the closet and, perhaps, was not all the way out. How he met or became involved with Jones is also unknown.

Watson posted to his Instagram along the way on his cross-country trip. But he never mentioned Jones or anyone else he was traveling with and the photos he posted were only of himself. Close friends of Watson’s say they knew little about Jones or his relationship with their friend.

All that is known is that in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 5, the Onstar button in Watson’s car was activated. A short time later, Westland Police found him dead in his Cadillac. Like DeGreaffenried, he had been shot to death. A short investigation led them to the apartment in the complex where Jones’ body was found.

A host of questions still linger about what appears to be a senseless tragedy, but what is clear is that three young men aged 30 or younger are dead. DeGreaffenried’s family says they know that if it hadn’t been for Watson’s death, DeGraffenried’s may have never received any attention.

“He worked for the city council, but my friend was somebody too,” Gooden said.

“Nobody did anything about my baby being found dead,” Hayes said. “But when they found DeAndree’s body, all the publicity came. I wanted people to know it started in Ewald Circle and ended up in Westland. … My baby’s murder would have been a cold case if we hadn’t spoken up and called the news.”

 

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.