By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
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By Kyle Swenson
When Merrial returned from the hospital, Clark paid her a visit. "I asked her what was going on. She was honest," Clark says. "With tears in her eyes she told me, 'Mike, he likes Porsche, he sells drugs, and I get them from him.'" According to Clark, Merrial confided to him that Baptiste was living there off and on, would buy groceries, and pay utility bills. Clark called Baptiste into Merrial's room and asked him to leave. "I told him, 'I don't live here, but Porsche's my daughter, and right now I'm asking you to leave. Whatever you have here, get it and leave. I'm not leaving until you leave.' He said, 'Okay,' walked around, grabbed his little bag, tossed in his clothing, got on his bike, and left." But not for good.
On another unannounced visit, Clark asked Porsche if she knew Baptiste supplied her mother with drugs. Shocked, Porsche told Clark she was unaware of this and to his surprise called Baptiste into the room and pressed him for an answer. "She asked him, 'Are you giving my mom drugs?'" Clark says. "Jonas just kept saying, 'Porsche, you know your mom, you know your mom.' Then he finally came out and said, 'Yes, sometimes.'" For a second time Clark kicked Baptiste out of the house and asked to speak to Merrial. When he walked into her room he found cocaine and money spread out on her bed. "I said, 'Merrial, you're gonna make me do something I'm gonna regret. She said to me, 'Mike no.' I said, 'Either you get help or I'm gonna have to get help for you.' She begged me not to and promised she would stop getting high." Merrial called Baptiste into the room, and he walked in obediently. In Clark's presence she asked Baptiste for the house key, and silently he handed it over and exited the home. Baptiste was back the next day.
For a few months, Clark says he made it his business to check on Porsche every day, but he grew tired after constantly seeing Baptiste's bike parked outside the house. Clark stopped keeping vigil when he started working a night job. He never reported Merrial's drug abuse and her dealings with Baptiste to DCF. "I was afraid they would take Merrial's kids away from her," he says regretfully. "I had threatened to do it a couple times, but I couldn't go through with it. Merrial would always plead with me not to let her kids be separated."
Merrial Williams died on March 17, 1999, of pneumonia. With Merrial dead, Clark again sought custody of Porsche and asked grandfather Howard Massie, Merrial's distant father, for his blessing. "He said 'Okay, Mike, as soon as everything settles down I'll get with you and we'll make arrangements. I'm giving you my word; my word is my bond.' " Instead Clark contends, Howard Massie, who had two of his daughter Sue's teenagers living with him, sent his daughter and her boys to live with Porsche in the HUD-subsidized home. Clark then tried to convince Porsche to move in with his family. "I spoke with her about coming to live here, but I let her know that a lot of things that were going on in her house wouldn't be accepted here," Clark says. "She didn't say anything, but I could see it in her eyes that she didn't like it. There are rules here. That's what kept Porsche away. She had been there for her mom for so long she felt grown. With her having a kid, and having to have to do things that an adult had to, she felt like she was grown."
According to neighbor Diane Robles, Baptiste was now living with Porsche full-time. In early May, Lisa Thompson, a community-resource specialist with MDHA, began interviewing family members to find a suitable home for Porsche. Thompson knew Sue Williams also was living with Porsche, but after a conference with the girl and her aunt, she concluded that Sue, who hadn't raised her own children, was in no position to become head of the household. Thompson tried unsuccessfully to place Porsche in the care of her great-grandmother Massey, who since 1997 had already assumed responsibility of the fifteen-year-old's two siblings. Massey told Thompson there was no way she could become Porsche and Erin's full-time guardian, nor was she willing to relocate into the HUD home with them. Thompson then submitted a referral to the New Horizons Overtown Family Enrichment Center, requesting that they provide services and make recommendations pertaining to Porsche's case. But the organization never followed through.
On May 16 Diane Robles filed the first of seven written complaints to MDHA. Robles reported heavy night traffic in and out of Porsche's home, and stated Baptiste had turned the home into a crackhouse. "Customers would call his name every day," recounts Robles, a single mother of five who works as a security guard. "It would be two or three in the morning. I used to leave my windows open but then I had to buy an AC unit so I could close them because of all the noise. I couldn't sleep." Addicts frequently knocked on Robles's door and back window, mistaking it for Porsche's.