New Castle News

November 19, 2013

‘Everyone loved her’: Family mourns tragic death of Mariah Jai Anderson

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Mariah Jai Anderson wanted to be a nurse.

The 22-year-old mother of three, of 701 W. Washington St., had planned to start school in January at Butler County Community College, where she had enrolled in its registered nursing program.

But as she left her job at Walmart’s deli department around 11:15 Sunday night, her former boyfriend and father of her children was waiting for her with a gun at her car in the store parking lot and shot her to death.

State police said Carlos Montique Harper, 27, of 103 E. Sharp St., approached Anderson’ 2002 Cadillac Escalade and fired a handgun through the passenger window. Six spent .40-caliber casings were found on the pavement. Police said Harper later shot himself in the head during a police standoff in Beaver County.

Deputy Coroner Rich Johnson said autopsies were to be performed on Anderson and Harper yesterday at Heritage Valley Health Center in Beaver County. He said Anderson’s cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds to her head and upper body.

Johnson said video surveillance shows a man, later identified as Harper, getting out of a car in the Walmart lot and approaching Anderson’s vehicle and shooting into it. The tape shows at least four shots were fired. Anderson had put her car in reverse gear and after the shooting it traveled in a circle, over a curb and into a tree, he said.

He pronounced Anderson dead at Jameson Hospital.

State police charged Harper with criminal homicide and aggravated assault and obtained a warrant for his arrest early yesterday morning. They received information he was at an apartment of an acquaintance in the Brightwood complex in New Brighton and formed a stake-out around the building at dawn.

Troopers and New Brighton police were in a standoff with him until around 11:45 a.m., when they learned Harper fatally shot himself inside a unit.



A SISTER SPEAKS

Anderson’s sister, Trisha Prowell of Union Township, described her sister as a good person.

“My sister was a nice girl,” she said. “She was a sweet person, a good mother to her children, a good sister and everyone loved her. She got along with everybody and was never in trouble in her life.”

Prowell said her younger sister had worked at Walmart for the past 3 years and was making plans for her future.

She said she didn’t know when her sister and Harper got together or when their relationship fell apart. They had three children — Pilaar, 4; Melinda “Mimi,” 3; and Carvale, 1.

“He seemed to be okay the times I saw him,” Prowell said.

Family members yesterday said they would take custody of the children.

“They had their good moments and their bad,” Prowell said of Anderson and Harper, “but even in the bad times I didn’t really think that he was abusive to her. She said they would fight because he had a lot of women. If he was abusive, we didn’t know.”

 “When she left him, she was real scared,” her sister said. “I know she had Protection From Abuse orders on him but the police would arrest him, then let him go.”



PROTECTION FROM ABUSE

New Castle police chief Bobby Salem said city police worked with the state police Sunday night, because Harper allegedly had violated protection from abuse orders that were filed in the city.

“We arrested Harper multiple times on PFAs,” Salem said, but he was released on bond each time.

Most recently Harper was wanted on a warrant for an alleged indecent assault of Anderson Nov. 10.

Prowell said that on one occasion, Union Township police drove Anderson to her house because Harper was following her.

“They wanted to make sure she got somewhere safe. She might have felt something, but I never thought it would come to this,” Prowell said.

Regarding Anderson’s breakup with Harper, “she said this time she was done,” Prowell said. “This time there would be no reconciliation. He couldn’t handle it.”

 According to reports filed by state police yesterday, Anderson and Harper had lived together for several years but separated a week ago over domestic issues, including assaults by Harper.

Police said Harper had stalked Anderson at Walmart on Thursday, which was documented on surveillance video.

A witness and parking lot surveillance also helped to identify Harper Sunday night.

An informant told police that Harper had said Friday that if he and Anderson did not reconcile and if she didn’t return some of his belongings to him that he was going to kill her. Harper had told the informant that he had already purchased a gun and planned to use it.

Police said that informant contacted Harper about 2 a.m. yesterday after hearing of Anderson’s death and asked if he had killed her.

According to the report, “The defendant chuckled and said, ‘I’m’ not done yet.’”

Court records indicate Anderson and Harper had obtained protection from abuse orders against each other this month.

Anderson also had obtained a previous PFA order against Harper that expired May 4, 2012.

She petitioned for another one against Harper and a temporary order was granted Nov. 12 by the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas.

Harper also had petitioned for a PFA against Anderson, and the courts granted a temporary order against her Nov. 15. A hearing on both petitions had been scheduled for Monday in Lawrence County court.

In her petition, Anderson said the most recent abuse incident occurred around 9 a.m. Nov. 10 at Harper’s house, when she accused Harper of assaulting her.

“He then told me he was going to beat me to death and did not give me my phone until 10 a.m. when I got to work,” she had said in the records.

Harper claimed in his petition that around Nov. 8, Anderson and a relative rode past his house “and put a shotgun out the window and she said she was going to kill me.”

(Reporters Debbie Wachter and John K. Manna also contributed to this story.)