The killers behind Dec. 23's fatal shooting of Rodney Eugene Seaton weren't trying to leave a calling card at the scene of the homicide, York City Detective First Class Jeff Spence said. But they might as well have.
As someone from inside a borrowed Saab fired at a group of five men including Seaton, the Saab's registration and insurance information somehow wound up on the ground, according to Spence.
"That's an act of God," he said.
York City detectives tracked down the owner of the car and her boyfriend, who told them the boyfriend had traded use of the car to a drug dealer in exchange for drugs, according to charging documents.
That dealer, according to charging documents, is Dominic Darnell Breeland.
"I expect more arrests to be made," he said on Monday, including a second person who was inside the Saab when Seaton was killed and his friend and neighbor Vincent Howze was shot in the back.
Closing in: Spence said investigators "have a good idea" who the second man is.
"We're getting there," he said.
What detectives haven't so far been able to figure out is why Breeland and his accomplice fired at the group in the first place, according to Spence.
It happened at 11:57 p.m. Dec. 23 at the corner of West Market Street and Newberry Street.
Breeland's charging documents state that Seaton, son Jeremy Seaton, Howze, son Garad Howze and a fifth man, Lamar DeShields, were walking to a local bar and stopped at Li's Kitchen to buy cigarettes.
Car seen twice: Surviving members of the group told detectives they saw a Saab, then saw it again going in a different direction, this time at Newberry and Market streets.
They saw two men inside the Saab, then saw and heard gunshots being fired from the driver's side of the car, documents state.
A witness identified as one of Breeland's cousins told investigators he called Breeland and asked whether he'd returned the car to the drug customer, and that "Breeland advised (him) that he would have to come get the car ... because Breeland was now out of town."
The next day, the cousin met up with Breeland and asked what happened to the Saab. Breeland indicated he was "hot," documents state, basically meaning he was wanted.
Text messages: Breeland also changed his cell phone number in the days after Seaton's slaying, according to police.
But that didn't stop detectives from reviewing Breeland's phone records, where they said they discovered incriminating text messages.
In one, Breeland texts a man, "If it comes down to it i was with you from 8 to 2 in da morning," documents allege. Those documents also cite other text messages allegedly written by Breeland after the homicide, including "my bad" and "somethin went down cuz," meaning cousin.
Wipe down car? He received several texts from a man warning him that police were looking for the drug customer who'd lent Breeland the Saab, documents state; one said "that fean whip gotta get wiped down asap."
"Fean" is a misspelling of the word "fiend," according to Spence, who said that's a term drug dealers use to refer to their customers, as in "drug fiend." A "whip" is a vehicle.
Breeland responded, "They dont no (know) da car brother," documents allege.
He also texted a woman: "Baby im comin ... I'm sailin da gun rite now," according to documents.
The background: Seaton, 48, of the 300 block of West Market Street was struck by a bullet that went through his arm and into his chest, according to police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Howze, 56, of the 400 block of West Market Street, was shot in the back and taken to York Hospital for treatment, police said. His condition could not be obtained.
After arresting Breeland on Sunday, they interviewed him. He denied involvement in the homicide, documents state.
Breeland remains in York County Prison without bail, charged with homicide and four counts each of attempted homicide and aggravated assault.
Free on bail: At the time of the homicide, he was free on $25,000 bail. He is awaiting trial on charges including theft from a vehicle, receiving stolen property and loitering and prowling at night.
His attorney in that case, Scott McCabe, declined immediate comment. It's unclear if Breeland has retained an attorney for the homicide case.
Anyone with information about Seaton's killing is asked to call detectives at 849-2219, or call the city's anonymous crime tip line, 849-2204. Or text a tip to YORKTIPS at 847411.
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.