SIOUX CITY — Two Sioux City teenagers are dead after an overnight double homicide in the Morningside area.
Officers from the Sioux City Police Department responded to the area of Jay Avenue and South Cecelia Street at 1:19 a.m. Sunday after receiving a report that two people were the victims of multiple stab wounds.
Felipe Negron Jr., 18, and an unnamed 17-year-old female were later identified as the victims and were stabbed in a variety of places, according to police officials.
Authorities declined to identify the female victim; however, several of her friends said Paiten Lynn Sullivan was the victim through social media, including Spencer Groves of Dakota City.
The suspect in the case is 18-year-old Tran Walker of Sioux City, whom police confirmed was previously involved in a romantic relationship with Sullivan during a press conference at police headquarters Sunday afternoon.
“What I’ll tell you right now, without giving away too much, is there is a prior relationship between the victim and the suspect; they are associates and known to one another,” said Sgt. Ryan Bertrand. “The victim was a prior girlfriend of the suspect.”
Bertrand said, at this time, they don't believe that Sullivan and Negron were involved romantically.
Groves called Sullivan, who would have turned 18 on Feb. 22, one of the best things to happen to him.
“Paiten was such an amazing young girl with so much ahead of her and it's horrifying to see what happened to her,” he said. “She was always there for people when they needed someone and I loved her so much and I hope she rests well. Also, I thank Felipe. (He) did his best to protect her. I hope they rest in peace.”
Both Negron and Sullivan were transported to Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City after the attack, where they were pronounced dead as a result of the injuries.
According to the department, Walker was "hanging out" and riding in a vehicle with the victims before the incident took place.
“The three people involved — the two victims and the suspect — were originally in a vehicle and had been riding around together,” Bertrand said. “We believe the assault was initiated/started in the vehicle and after the vehicle came to a stop it continued.”
Some civilians came to the victims' aid shortly after the assault, and Negron, who was still conscious at the time, was able to provide them with some information, Bertrand said.
Walker was found shortly after 2 a.m. at the Hy-Vee store on Gordon Drive after several bystanders reported there was an injured man at the store.
When authorities arrived, they realized Walker fit the description of the suspect from the stabbings and took him into custody. He was treated at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s for injuries on his hand consistent with a knife wound.
Walker was later booked at the Woodbury County Jail on two first-degree murder charges without bail. In Iowa, first-degree murder is a class A felony and punishable by life in prison.
As the case is still an open investigation, Bertrand could not provide the suspected motive behind the crime but indicated the charges filed against Walker gave a slight indication.
“If you look at the complainant affidavits, you’ll see that the charge is a murder first with elements of that being that malice of forethought, there being some level or element of premeditation and I’ll just leave it at that,” he said.
During his remarks, Sioux City Police Chief Rex Mueller noted this incident is tragic for all parties involved considering the ages of the victims and the suspect.
“We don’t often think and discuss the impact these things have on families,” he said. “Certainly, what is upsetting here is the ages of the parties involved and our hearts definitely go out to not only the parents of the victims but the parents of the suspect because truly this is going to change everybody’s lives.”