Dejah Jenkins-Minus had been stabbed 58 times and her neck was broken when police found her body in the bedroom of her on-again off-again boyfriend’s home in Lowell on the day after Thanksgiving, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The brutality of Jenkins-Minus’s killing was outlined in Lowell District Court where 22-year-old Leonard D. Robinson was arraigned Tuesday on a murder charge. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail.
“This was a tragic death that was caused by him on Thanksgiving Day,” said Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Thomas Brant.
The murder of 22-year-old Jenkins-Minus, Brant said, was perhaps driven by a conflict over the two-month-old daughter she shared with Robinson. Just two days before he allegedly brutalized Jenkins-Minus, prosecutors said, Robinson wrote a post on Facebook questioning whether he was the father of their daughter, writing that he had wanted a paternity test since her birth.
Jenkins-Minus, her family said on Facebook, was a bright light whose life was taken far too soon.
“Life for me will never be the same,” her mother, LaToya, wrote in a post shortly after Tuesday’s hearing.
Jenkins-Minus had been staying at her family’s home in Boston for Thanksgiving when she departed with her daughter and headed to Robinson’s home on Llewelyn Street in Lowell in the early hours of Nov. 25.
“She was expected to be at the family house in Boston... for a Thanksgiving Day gathering,” said Brant. “She did not return during that day.”
Concerned by her absence, her family members began frantically checking the location of her phone, Brant said. It placed her at Robinson’s home, and Jenkins-Minus’s mother drove straight to Lowell. She found the home locked, empty, and dark.
Early the following morning, as police were responding to the home for a wellness check, a family member of Robinson climbed in through a window, calling out for him. He found his bedroom locked and kicked the door open.
“This family member began to kick [the door] and was able to gain entry into it and saw the body of Dejah Jenkins-Minus on the ground next to the air mattress in that bedroom,” Brant said.
When police went through the home, they found blood splattered in the kitchen and on the floors and walls.
“What the medical examiner’s office noted was that Dejah’s neck was fractured, that she had over 58 stab wounds to her body by a sharp object,” said Brant. “There were defensive wounds on her hands and her arms, stab wounds to her upper torso, front and rear of her neck, her face and the back of her head.”
A knife that investigators believe is “consistent with the murder weapon” was found during a search of the home, according to a press release from Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office.
Jenkins-Minus’s family members found her daughter in a Boston residence on the afternoon of Nov. 26, according to Marcela Dwork, a spokeswoman for Ryan. She was “surprisingly, miraculously in good condition,” Brant said. Her diaper bag had dried blood on it. It was not immediately clear how the girl ended up there.
“Those details, we are still investigating,” said Dwork. “We don’t know who took the baby to the house. We don’t know how the baby appeared at that residence.”
Robinson was free on $5,000 bail from two gun cases pending in Suffolk Superior Court and had been ordered to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet and to keep a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew, records show.
Data from the bracelet obtained by authorities placed him at the home until around 2 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. It indicates that he then drove to multiple different locations in Boston before cutting off the bracelet at 4:56 p.m., according to prosecutors and court records. He was arrested Monday night in Boston, police said. He did not confess to the murder, Brant said in court.
Robinson’s public defender did not object to the no-bail order, but said Robinson is concerned that he would be in danger in the Middlesex House of Corrections.
He is slated to appear in court again Dec. 30.
John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed.