BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Battle Creek police say they found the body of a slain gas station employee after the suspected murderer sent an incriminating text message to a friend.
Shawn Pike, 30, was arrested Wednesday morning in the homicide of 27-year-old Nicole Gates, according to the Battle Creek Police Department. A second suspect was also taken into custody for allegedly helping Pike after the killing.
Pike allegedly killed Gates around midnight at the Citgo gas station on W. Michigan Avenue near Hussey Avenue, BCPD says.
Police say that after Pike brutally stabbed Gates, he stole cigarettes and beer from the gas station convenience store, and then took off in her car.
Pike then allegedly texted someone he knew, saying he had killed someone at a Citgo.
That person called police around 1 a.m., but didn’t know to which Citgo Pike was referring. Between 25 and 30 BCPD officers searched nearly a dozen Citgos before locating Gates’ body around 3:30 a.m.
“There’s a lot of blood,” BCPD Detective Sgt. Jim Martens said. “Obviously, a heinous crime. Anybody was willing to do that to somebody and collect beer and cigarettes, it’s not good.”
Pike allegedly met up with a second suspect in Gates’ car after the homicide. At one point, police say, there were “several subjects” in that vehicle. But Pike and the second suspect got rid of Gates’ car at some point before BCPD found and arrested them around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The second suspect, a 25-year-old Battle Creek man who has not yet been named, is expected to be arraigned Thursday.
“At this time, we’re only charging him as an accessory after the fact,” Martens said.
It is known the second suspect pleaded guilty in February to fraud charges.
Pike was released from a nine-year prison sentence for sex crimes in 2012.
Police say that Gates and Pike knew each other.
“There is a loose relationship,” Martens said.
Gates’ brother said that may be true, but that they could not have known each other well and they certainly weren’t involved in a romantic relationship.
Gates had two daughters and son, all under the age of 8. She started working at the gas station earlier this month.
“She love to laugh and have fun. She didn’t really care about anything, she just wanted to have fun,” Gates’ cousin Bree Caswell said.
She and some of Gates’ friends Wednesday placed a large bouquet on the lawn of the gas station.
Caswell said she had met Pike once last Sunday, but didn’t know much about him.
Stacy Reynolds, a regular customer at the gas station, told 24 Hour News 8 one of the female employees often closes alone at night.
“We were in there at 11 last night and everything seemed quiet,” Reynolds said. “We’re in here all the time, we come in two to three times a day. We know all the workers and I’m concerned for everybody’s safety.”
Anyone with information should call the Battle Creek Police Department at 269.966.3322 or Silent Observer at 269.964.3888.