Prosecutors accuse 47-year-old Ernest Terrell Blakney of shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend before setting his home on fire near 83rd and Vienna.
The Milwaukee police and fire departments were called to the home just before 4:30 a.m. for a "house fire." While working to put out the flames, the fire department found the homicide victim, identified as 36-year-old Nikia Rogers, on the second floor of the home.
An autopsy found Rogers had four gunshot wounds caused by two bullets – shot in the head and back. The medical examiner's office ruled the gunshot wounds as the cause of death in the manner of a homicide.
A criminal complaint states the fire could have started in four different places: the detached garage, the basement, the first floor and Rogers' body. Her body had several burns consistent with having been set on fire, and police found a container of lighter fluid nearby.
The complaint states Blakney and Rogers lived at the home together. There were multiple vehicles at the home registered to Blakney; however, the one vehicle registered to Rogers was missing.
Investigators spoke to a man who said he'd known Rogers for several years, and they had become "reacquainted" a few weeks before the fire. The man said Rogers described Blakney as "crazy" and that he was moving things out of the home.
House fire near 83rd and Vienna, Milwaukee
The man said he got a message from the Rogers' phone number, sent a few minutes after emergency crews were called to the fire on Aug. 25, that said: "You should have left her alone." The man replied "excuse me," to which someone replied, "she dead." The witness said he knew Blakney to go by his middle name, Terrell, so he asked: "This Terrell?" The number answered, "yes," according to the complaint
A witness, who identified Blakney from a photo, told investigators Blakney called him around 5 a.m. the morning of the fire. Blakney said he was "in the woods" and said he was "sorry" – but did not explain why, the witness said. Around 30 minutes later, the witness said Blakney showed up at his home "soaking wet" and bleeding. Blakney changed his clothes and threw his wet clothes away, which police later seized.
Flowers placed for Nikia Rogers outside homicide, fire scene near 83rd and Vienna
The complaint states the witness asked Blakney why he was sorry, but he would only repeat that he was sorry and that "she made me do it; eventually, Blakney said "I shot her." The witness asked who, and said Blakney responded that he shot Rogers because she was moving out.
The witness later noted Blakney had a gun, per the complaint. Blakney also said, according to the witness, that he had burned his house down and was going to burn his tractor trailers near 76th and Florist. The witness said he tried to calm Blakney down and convince him to turn himself in, but he refused and left.
Field where Nikia Rogers' SUV was found
Based on the witness' statements, police searched a wooded area near Swan and Allyn – roughly seven miles from the scene of the fire. Officers saw tire tracks heading from the road into a field and found Rogers' SUV abandoned roughly 100 yards into the field.
Later, the complaint states, police spoke to a third man. The man told police he was repairing a bulldozer at a construction site near the woods on Aug. 25 and heard "metal collapsing" while he was at his work truck. He went to the back of the truck and saw a man, whom he identified as Blakney from a photo lineup, pointing a gun at him. Blakney demanded the keys to the truck and ordered the man to get inside a trailer, locking the man in from the outside before driving away in the truck. The man eventually forced his way out and called 911.
Construction site where worker was forced into trailer at gunpoint
In all, Blakney is charged with:
- First-degree reckless homicide
- Attempted mutilating a corpse
- Armed robbery
- Possession of a firearm by a felon
- Felony bail jumping
- False imprisonment
The complaint states Blakney was previously charged with second-degree sexual assault – accused of having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 2020 – and was released in November 2021 after posting $5,000 cash bail.
On Aug. 15, 2022 – 10 days before the fire – he pleaded guilty and was convicted; he was due in court for sentencing on Oct. 20. In 2010, he was convicted of cocaine possession with intent to deliver. Police said he could possibly be driving a blue Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with Wisconsin plates DH21644.
MPD continues to seek Blakney. Anyone with information is asked to call the MPD at 414-935-7360; to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 414-224-TIPS or use the P3 tips app.
Rogers' mother told FOX6 News she is hurt, heartbroken, torn and does not have the words to try to understand why someone would do this to her daughter.