February 21, 2024

Virginia Police Failed to Investigate the Killing of Two Women

  • A federal lawsuit says Virginia killed two women and that his mother, who worked for the police, prevented a full investigation.
  • Michael Ebong was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Sheena West and Kelsey Paton.
  • The lawsuit says Paton’s death could have been prevented if Norfolk police had investigated the first death.

A Virginia man convicted of killing two women was able to commit the same crime again and again because his mother, who worked for the police department, helped quash the investigation and destroy the evidence, federal prosecutors say.

Michael Ebong was convicted last year of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Sheena West in November 2020 and Kelsey Paton in July 2021, court records show. Ebong was accused of drugging the women at local bars and taking them back to his apartment against their will, where they later died from the drugs.

But a new lawsuit by Paton’s mother against the City of Norfolk argues that her daughter’s death could have been prevented if police had properly investigated West’s death months earlier. Kathy Paton’s lawsuit alleges that Ebong’s mother “held a position of influence” within the police department and used that influence to ensure that officers did not question Ebong, and instead “destroyed, concealed, and failed to preserve evidence” of the crime.

The lawsuit alleges the police department’s actions amount to obstruction of justice.

“By blocking Ebong’s prosecution for murder, the Norfolk Police Department allowed him to remain at large in the Hampton Roads community to continue his modus operandi of drugging women at bars, removing them from the bars, bringing them to his home, raping them, and sometimes killing them with an overdose of the chemicals he drugged them with,” the lawsuit said.

Norfolk authorities initially dismissed West’s death at Ebong’s apartment as an “accidental overdose” with no foul play suspected. media reports at the time. Then, less than a year later, in an identical case, Paton was found dead of a drug overdose at Ebong’s apartment.

Both the West and Paton families said a local CBS affiliate at the time the women did not do drugs.

Court records show that Ebong was initially charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of the two women, although he was ultimately convicted of a lesser charge: involuntary manslaughter. The lawsuit says Norfolk police were responsible for the lesser charge because they failed to preserve evidence that could have secured a first- or second-degree murder conviction.

Ebong’s mother held ‘various administrative positions’ in the Norfolk Police Department

A representative for the City of Norfolk denied the allegations and told Insider in a statement that the city was “aware” of Paton’s lawsuit but had not yet been served.

“While the City extends its condolences to the Paton family, it denies that the NPD obstructed justice and will defend the law accordingly,” the statement said.

The statement said Ebong’s mother, Maravia Reid, worked as a civilian employee “in various administrative positions” within the Norfolk Police Department for 27 years. She retired in March 2022. Reid did not immediately respond to multiple messages from Insider seeking comment.

The lawsuit alleges that Ebong, nine months after West’s death, met Paton at a local bar, took her to his home against her will, “bruised her thighs and killed her from an overdose.” The lawsuit also alleged Ebong injured Paton with blunt force trauma to the head.

As with West’s death, Ebong asked police to report Paton’s death as an “overdose,” and his mother then prevented responding officers from questioning him and preserving evidence at the scene, the lawsuit alleges. Norfolk officials even allowed Ebong to carry Paton’s body from his home, according to the law.

The lawsuit says some of the evidence Norfolk police failed to preserve was Paton’s wallet, which Ebong said contained drugs, and whatever Ebong could have used to inflict blunt force trauma on Paton’s head.

“The Norfolk Police Department grossly failed to recognize that Ebong had previously called in West’s overdose and unceremoniously sent Kelsey Paton’s body to the medical examiner without identifying a pattern of behavior and failing to preserve the evidence at the scene of her death,” the lawsuit said.

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