Donnovan Lewis is behind bars for murdering his girlfriend, Aniya Mack, before placing her body in a suitcase, which was later found in a creek in Comstock Township, Michigan.
Mack, a psychology student at Western Michigan University with a 3.8 GPA, was elated about her new job working with autistic children in Kalamazoo.
So when the 24-year-old didn’t show up for work one day, it convinced family members and friends that something had gone awry, MLive reported.
When Mack’s mother got in contact with her then-25-year-old boyfriend, he told her that he hadn’t heard from her, but he made mention of a meeting that Mack and her pastor had scheduled.
That prompted her to reach out to the pastor, but that was a dead end, as he too said he hadn’t seen or heard from Mack.
After learning that Mack’s friends, boyfriend, and the pastor had no knowledge of her whereabouts, she contacted the Kalamazoo Police Department on June 28, 2018, and reported her daughter missing.
Officers were then dispatched to an apartment complex where Mack lived to conduct a welfare check. After several knocks and no answer, they went inside, and upon doing so, they noticed bloodstains on the carpet.
Crime scene investigators used blue light to further analyze the carpet, which revealed that someone had attempted to clean it with bleach and other cleaning products.
To ascertain who the blood belonged to, the carpet was subsequently sent to the crime lab for testing.
They also found several bottles of alcohol in the bedroom and living room area, as if someone else had been in the home with her.
Neighbors told police that they knew Mack had a boyfriend, Lewis, who would often visit her at her home.
Although they made no mention of ever hearing a disturbance between the couple, detectives brought Lewis to the police station for questioning.
It was there that he told detectives that his girlfriend was having an affair with her married pastor.
Lewis said he initially became suspicious of their relationship when the pastor gave her a car, paid her rent, and would often stop by her apartment.
The former Kalamazoo Valley Community College basketball player also said he took a screenshot of an inappropriate text message the pastor had sent to Mack on June 16, 2018.
He showed it to the detectives. It read: “I’m trying to give you the best d*** of your life but you running [SIC] from it.”
The pastor denied the allegations.
He stated that offering Mack financial assistance or any kind of help wasn’t out of the ordinary, as he had helped several members of the church who were in need.
He also provided an alibi for the day Mack disappeared. He claimed that although he saw her, it was brief and the rest of the day was spent with his wife.
Just as detectives were about to contact the pastor’s wife, they received a phone call from Mack’s friend regarding a Facebook post that Lewis had made.
In the post, he wrote: “I am so sorry for what I have done. I just hope all of you can forgive me.”
“I apologize to anyone that ever looked up to me and loved me.”
Detectives went to his home in the 4000 block of W. Michigan Avenue, where he lived with his grandmother. When they knocked on the door,
Lewis exited the house with his hands behind his back and said, “Just take me in, and we’ll talk about it on the way.”
“Just tell me now,” a detective demanded. That’s when Lewis confessed to killing his girlfriend.
While at the police station, Lewis stated that on June 24, 2018, he and his girlfriend were having drinks at her apartment. And they were in an inebriated state when Lewis decided to confront her about her relationship with the pastor.
An argument ensued. From there, Lewis said he “lost control” and struck Mack in the face, which caused her to lose consciousness.
He then grabbed a large knife from the kitchen and slit her throat before putting a garbage bag over her head and placing her body in a suitcase.
WoodTV reported that Lewis initially threw the suitcase in a dumpster at his apartment complex, but he removed it around dawn and loaded it into his mother’s van.
Lewis asserted that he took the suitcase to a creek off East Main Street in Comstock Township, where it remained for four days, covered in mud.
The next morning, on June 29, 2018, he showed detectives the location of Mack’s body, which hadn’t started the process of decomposition because of the cold water and mud.
Detectives found no evidence that Mack and her pastor were having a sexual relationship, and “the motive behind her murder was a tragic misunderstanding,” according to the true-crime television series, Fatal Attraction, Thou Shall Not Kill.
That same day, Lewis was officially arrested and booked into the Kalamazoo County Jail on an open murder charge.
The program director of YWCA Domestic Violence Crisis Services stated that “the pattern seen here is all too common. It’s that whole, ‘If you’re not gonna be with me, you’re not going to be with anyone.’”
“That ends up in lethality and ends up in death, then there usually are some other warning signs that can take place.”
On Sept. 19, 2018, several days before his trial, Lewis made an attempt to escape from jail. While kicking a soccer ball between two other inmates in the recreation yard, he sprinted towards the security fence and hopped over it.
It was reported that he jumped over two more fences that were “topped with barbed and razor wire.”
Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officers apprehended Lewis about 33 minutes later near South Burdick Street and West Maple Street.
Lewis said he didn’t try to escape to run from his problems; it was solely out of concern for the safety of his family, who were getting death threats.
On Oct. 28, 2019, Lewis appeared before Judge Paul Bridenstine at the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court, where the victim’s aunt gave a victim impact statement.
She said, “You took something dear from us. We can’t get it back. You’ve got to live with that. I hope you can.”
Moments before delivering a sentence, the judge told Lewis that “Aniya Mack didn’t deserve any of these things.”
“She didn’t deserve to be hit to begin with. She didn’t deserve to be put unconscious.”
“She didn’t deserve to be stabbed and murdered, and her body didn’t deserve to be treated (like) less than garbage. And all of that happened because of you, nobody else.”
After he entered a guilty plea, Lewis was sentenced in October 2019 to 25 to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder.