An investigation is ongoing into the deaths of Khalilah Brister, 25, and her 7-year-old daughter, Tyrielle Jefferson, who were found dead near a Milwaukee beach on the early morning hours of December 7.
According to Brister’s mother, Jackie Brister, the saga unfolded when her daughter left home with her mother’s car and wallet without permission. When Jackie found out, she called 911.
“I told them she wasn’t right, you know? That had never happened before. I told them that, and their concern was ‘We’ll find your car,'” Jackie told WISN.
Unexpectedly, she received a phone call hours later from her granddaughter’s other grandmother on her father’s side of the family.
“The other grandmother called me and said, ‘Jackie, there’s a lady on my phone. She was down by Bradford Beach. She said Tyrielle came running up to her, said her mother was trying to kill her, and the lady said she went back and talked to my daughter, and my daughter said she was tired. She just wanted to go into the water,'” Jackie said.
Jackie then called the police again.
“The police officer said, ‘Ma’am were only dealing with the aspect of your car. That’s something the sheriff’s department has to handle because it happened in the park system,'” Jackie said.
She said it was the last time she heard from the police that day.
Meanwhile, police officials said they sent deputies to search the beach where Tyrielle was found. Reports say the 7-year-old told someone that her mother was trying to kill her, but before they could get there, the call was cancelled because the mother and daughter were not at the scene. The sheriff’s office said they did attempt to find Khalilah and Tyrielle but they were unable to locate them.
“I don’t think the sheriff took it seriously when we called Wednesday night and was talking about her going into the water. Why wasn’t an Amber Alert issued then?” Jackie said.
She added that she called the sheriff’s office again the following day but they did not respond.
“I didn’t hear nothing else until the detectives came here,” Jackie said.
When police officials finally arrived at Jackie’s home, it was to deliver bad news.
“He said, ‘I’m sorry,’ and when he said, ‘I’m sorry,’ I knew what was coming next. I had to look at the pictures of them in the car.”
It was then when she was informed that both Khalilah and Tyrielle were dead.
Jackie acknowledges that Khalilah was unwell and believes her daughter and granddaughter would still be alive had law enforcement responded with greater urgency.
“They didn’t do they job…They dropped the ball. I’m very angry because now I don’t have my daughter. I don’t get to see my granddaughter grow up.”
The Monday following their death. Milwaukee police issued this statement defending the police officers who were called to the scene when the initial call was made.
“This information relayed to the deputies was interpreted as the assignment being cancelled because it was transferred over to another jurisdiction(s). In spite of that conclusion, a deputy checked the area anyway and was unable to locate the vehicle and subjects. Transferring MCSO calls to other jurisdictions prior to our arrival, depending on the situation, is a common occurrence.”
The statement continues: “On the following day (Thursday), when MCSO was contacted, we began to investigate. The MCSO Criminal Investigations Division initiated procedural steps related to a critical missing persons investigation. During the course of those steps being taken, we were notified that the vehicle was located by MPD.”
“No matter how you look at it, the loss of this mother and daughter is tragic. Our heart goes out to the family and loved ones.”