The lawyer of the woman who called Las Vegas police Monday to tell them where to find her daughter’s dead body in Centreville said he was surprised the woman was even still alive.
John Turner, who was the woman’s lawyer for three years before she moved out of Illinois, said he assumed the woman and her family were “in a car at the bottom of a lake.”
Turner represented the woman in a lawsuit she and her husband filed in Monroe County. They alleged that she was injured when a motorist backed a pickup into her on the parking lot of a store.
Turner said she had been charged with a variety of offenses — such as shoplifting, not having a MetroLink ticket and driving an uninsured car — and he was surprised when he suddenly stopped hearing from her.
“She and her family fell off the face of the earth,” Turner said. “I thought they might be dead. No one told me anything.”
The woman is the wife of Jason Quate, who was arrested Tuesday in Las Vegas on charges of sex-trafficking of an adult and accepting or receiving earnings of a prostitute. His wife told police Monday that he had forced her into prostitution and killed one of their daughters in Belleville in 2013. Local police found the body of the 6-year-old girl in a Centreville garage Tuesday.
The woman was being held Thursday in a Las Vegas jail on a fugitive warrant stemming from an unrelated forgery case out of St. Clair County. Jail records showed she was being held pending a Monday court appearance as a fugitive on an out-of-state warrant.
Las Vegas Public Information Officer Laura Meltzer said St. Clair County authorities have confirmed they’re willing to pick up the woman on the Illinois warrant.
Just last month, St. Clair County prosecutors filed a petition asking that the woman be held in contempt of court for allegedly failing to pay fines and fees from a 2013 forgery case. Court records indicate there was an open warrant for her arrest in that case, with bail set at $7,000 cash.
Quate, the father of the girl whose decomposed body was discovered in a Centreville garage, has given conflicting accounts of what happened to his daughter.
In an interview earlier this week with a Las Vegas television station, Quate said he thought his wife had given the 6-year-old, Alysha, up for adoption.
“I’ve been thinking this whole time she was adopted off,” he said. “She said she found a family looking for our kid, and they wanted to adopt her, and which was fine because we were struggling badly at the time with money and trying to take care of three girls.”
But in a subsequent interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Quate said the girl accidentally choked to death on a piece of steak.
Quate told the Post-Dispatch that his daughter had been playing with her sister when she fell off a bed and lightly hit her head. Quate said he spanked her, unaware that she had a piece of steak in her mouth, and she choked to death.
The girl’s autopsy will most likely be Friday, said St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye Sr.
Quate remained in custody Thursday in Las Vegas. A judge there found probable cause for the sex-trafficking case to proceed. Quate was scheduled to appear in court Friday morning, at which time an attorney was expected to be appointed for him.
In addition, Las Vegas authorities on Thursday filed an additional child-abuse charge against Quate.
Belleville police are investigating the death of his 6-year-old daughter.
As of Thursday, no charges had been filed against Quate in St. Clair County in connection with the death of his daughter. But St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said his office was coordinating with local police and Las Vegas police, as well as prosecutors in Clark County, Nev., where Quate is facing the other charges.
“We’re in contact with our counterparts in Clark County and coordinating with the Belleville Police Department and the authorities in Las Vegas,” Kelly said. “We are reviewing the case and deciding what action needs to be taken here.”
Alysha was the youngest of three girls, each born 16 months apart, according to her maternal grandmother, Christine O’Dell.
The child-abuse allegations stem from the condition in which Las Vegas investigators found his other two daughters living.
“They had obviously had very limited contact with any family, any neighbors, any friends,” Lt. Ray Spencer of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said Wednesday. “Their social skills were very non-age-appropriate.”
The two surviving daughters have been taken into protective custody.
Quate’s bail was set at $5,000 cash on the new charge. His bail was set at $23,000 cash on the previous charges.
The case began unfolding after Quate’s 34-year-old wife went to a Las Vegas women’s shelter Monday night. She told authorities she had been prostituted by her husband for the past two years.
She also told authorities the body of her “baby” — 6-year-old Alysha — could be found in the Centreville garage at 7201 Russell Ave. There, local authorities found the body of the girl in a bin with cat litter.
Quate has told KSNV-TV in Las Vegas that his wife’s involvement in prostitution was her idea.
“Obviously, I’m the victim here,” he said. “She wanted to come out here and be a prostitute. She wanted to do all this. I’ve never harmed her and forced her to do this. I’ve begged her to get a regular job.”
The mother, 35, has been convicted of forgery, criminal trespassing and retail theft in Madison and St. Clair counties.
She served five days in jail after failing to pay court fees in connection with a 2012 criminal trespassing charge in Swansea.
In March 2013, she was charged with forgery in Fairview Heights. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year of probation.
Then, in July 2013, she was charged and pleaded guilty to retail theft of more than $300 in Granite City. She served a year of probation and paid several hundred dollars in fines and fees.
She pleaded guilty to a similar theft charge in Highland in November of that same year. She was again sentenced to probation — two years this time — in addition to 10 days of public service.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.