Cortez Lenarde Warren, a 32-year-old Alabama man, is officially charged with the murder of his girlfriend, authorities announced.
Warren was immediately considered a suspect in the killing of Madison Shea Pilkington, his partner of less than a year, when the 25-year-old was found beaten to death in her Hoover apartment, just outside of Birmingham, on Saturday.
On Monday, reports emerged that Warren had been in police custody since the day Pilkington’s remains were discovered.
The 31-year-old was reportedly arrested following a high-speed pursuit along an interstate highway that left one state trooper with minor injuries. Warren was booked in a county jail, where he stands accused of homicide, evidence tampering, and unlawful possession of marijuana, sources added.
What Happened to Madison Shea Pilkington?
According to local news outlets, 25-year-old Pilkington was scheduled to work at Baumhower’s Victory Grille on Friday but never showed up for her shift. Family members became worried and went searching for her.
At around 4 a.m. on Saturday morning, police were called to Pilkington’s apartment in Hoover, where a loved one found her unresponsive. First responders declared her dead at the scene.
Investigators initially gave no cause of death but said they suspected foul play and believed the killing “may have been domestic” in nature. Medical examiners later determined the 25-year-old had died from blunt force trauma, though no further details were given and no murder weapon was suggested.
Police remained on the scene for hours, removing forensic evidence from Pilkington’s apartment almost until noon.
Immediately, police told reporters they considered Pilkington’s boyfriend a suspect in her murder. Authorities put out a be-on-the-lookout alert for Cortez Lenarde Warren, believed to be driving a white Nissan Altima.
Cortez Lenarde Warren Arrested Following Chase
By the early afternoon, Warren’s vehicle was spotted driving north on Interstate 65 somewhere north of Hoover near Birmingham and Irondale, according to reports. By the time he passed through Birmingham’s northern limits, law enforcement officers from “multiple agencies” had made visual contact and were hot on Warren’s trail.
The 32-year-old suspect eventually pulled over to surrender. As police slammed their brakes to stop and apprehend him, a motorist was taken by surprise and accidentally rear-ended a police officer’s squad car.
Both the driver and the officer were hospitalized, the latter having suffered a concussion, AL.com reported.
Warren was taken into custody following the pursuit and booked into a Jefferson County jail on charges of murder, unlawful possession of marijuana, and evidence tampering — police said they believed he tried to “clean up” Pilkington’s apartment after allegedly beating her to death, but they did not elaborate further.
Court filings show that Warren, reportedly a restaurant worker, has previously been arrested on charges of domestic violence. In 2016, a woman claimed Warren had choked her and broken her cellphone to stop her from calling for help.
Of the two charges filed in that incident, one was dismissed by a judge, while a grand jury declined to indict him on the other.
Warren’s bail was set at $262,000, online jail records show. It’s not clear when he’s due back in court or if he’s retained a lawyer.
Friends and Family in Mourning
Those who knew and loved Madison Shea Pilkington said she was “beautiful both inside and out.”
“She was loved by everyone who knew her,” said her aunt, Dana Armstrong. “It’s been such a shock.”
A GoFundMe page organized to assist with the 25-year-old’s funeral costs raised more than $13,000 within 24 hours of going live.
“Honestly I’m at a loss for words,” wrote Alyssa Fields Moore, a friend of Pilkington’s, in a post on Facebook. “[Madison] and I shared so many memories growing up. She knew exactly how to light up a room and make you laugh so hard that your stomach hurt. My heart is so broken for her sweet family.”