19-year-old Sasha Bell and her friend, 19-year-old Sacorya Reed, were found shot in Bell’s Flint, Michigan apartment on April 19, 2016. The women were rushed to an area hospital, but both were pronounced dead shortly after their arrival. Bell’s estranged ex-boyfriend, Malek Thornton, has been charged for the deaths of both the women.
The murder of a young mother and her friend by a jealous ex-lover might possibly be just another sad, but all too common story to grace the headlines of local Flint newspapers, if it weren’t for Bell’s involvement in the Flint Water Crisis.
When the local economy took a turn for the worse, emergency manager, Michael Brown, was appointed to handle the city of Flint’s finances. In order to save money, the city worked out a deal with Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA), in order to provide water to Flint and surrounding communities from Lake Huron.
The city signed a contract with KWA to begin their pipeline project, but Flint’s previous water supplier – The Detroit Water and Sewage Department – were none too happy about the deal and refused to supply water to the city while the pipeline project was underway. Left with few options, Flint opted to temporarily provide water to the city through the Flint River.
The switch over for the city’s water supply was initially reported as a success, but there was one major oversight. The city’s water treatment facility had failed to treat the water with proper corrosion-control. Lead and bacteria from the aged pipes contaminated the water and it wasn’t long before residents began to complain about the odor and color of the water they received in their homes. Many of these people later fell ill due to the foul water being provided to them.
Spearheading these complaints was Sasha Bell. Bell was among the first to file suit when it was discovered that her child had contracted lead poisoning from the contaminated water provided by the city of Flint. In a conspiracy involving city officials including executive staff of the Flint Water Treatment Plant, a local branch of the EPA, Michael Brown and the Flint city council, it took nearly two years for independent researchers to prove that the city of Flint was poisoning their residents.
Six companies and several government employees were targeted in the class action suit against the city of Flint that Bell had been involved in. Bell will never get to see the ruling of her case, filed on the behalf of her infant son. Some have been suspicious that Bell’s death occurred during important court proceedings involving the city’s negligence and happened to have occurred just three days after the mysterious death of Flint Water Treatment Plant foreman, Matthew McFarland.
Investigators in both Bell’s and McFarland’s deaths insist that there is no connection and it was just a morbid coincidence that the deaths occurred within the same week. With the public’s distrust of Flint officials, it isn’t any wonder why many may be jumping aboard the theory that both Bell and McFarland were “silenced” before they could see their days in court.
Police are still awaiting toxicology tests related to the death of McFarland, but have indicated that there were no signs of foul play when a friend found him dead in his home.
As we await to hear more details on the death of McFarland, Bell was laid to rest on April 28, 2016 after a private family service. Her son has been placed into the custody of family and Thornton is being held on two first-degree murder charges.