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Pair in Illinois dead child case appear in Las Vegas courts

Elizabeth Odell-Quate appears in court in Las Vegas on Monday, June 12, 2017. Odell-Quate is accused in Illinois of concealing the death of a child whose body was found in the garage of an abandoned St. Louis-area house. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Two girls rescued from a Las Vegas apartment had scars “too numerous to count,” according to police documents that reveal disturbing new details in a case with ties to the St. Louis area.

One of the girls was missing a clump of hair and had difficulty walking, according to arrest reports prepared after a SWAT team stormed the apartment where Jason Quate lived with his two daughters, 12 and 13, and his wife. Investigators say they found evidence of sexual abuse and bizarre relationships with the parents, who once lived in the Metro East area, the documents say.

Quate, 34, has been charged in Las Vegas with sex trafficking and living off the earnings of a prostitute, cases stemming from his wife’s claims he forced her into sex work. He is also being held on suspicion of child abuse and possession of child pornography.

The story began to unfold June 6 when Quate’s wife, Elizabeth Odell-Quate, 35, went to a domestic violence shelter in Las Vegas and told police that her husband had abused her and her children for years, forced her into prostitution and murdered their youngest daughter, Alysha Rose Quate, in the Metro East about four years ago.

Police found the 6-year-old child’s decomposed remains inside the garage of a vacant home in Centreville based on Odell-Quate’s statements.

Meanwhile, a Las Vegas SWAT team went to the family’s apartment.

The girls were pale and had scars on their faces, arms, legs, torsos and heads, some of which appeared to be burns. The girls claimed they had been hurt in a car accident.

Quate eventually told police he had caused injuries by hitting the girls with an extension cord, after first saying he only spanked them or hit them with a belt. He told police he had “problems controlling his anger” and said one of the punishments came because one of the girls “cussed,” according to the reports.

Quate blamed the missing clump of hair on one of the girls’ heads on the girl’s sister, saying the second girl had hit the first on the head with an object. He said he treated the girl with penicillin but otherwise left the wound untreated, which led to a large scar and bald spot.

Odell-Quate had told authorities that, for the last three or four years, her husband would let her see the girls but not let them interact or speak to each other. The girls told police they didn’t know their mother’s name and referred to her as the “other parent.” One girl said Odell-Quate was mean to her and yelled at her.

Both girls said one of the children was their father’s “favorite.” She would get better gifts, and he would talk and play with her in the living room while the other girl played in a back bedroom, they said. That girl said Quate was “everything right now,” the report said.

One of the girls drew a picture of herself with her father during a break in questioning, according to the reports. On the back she wrote a note calling her dad “sexy,” with heart doodles and one with an arrow going through it.

He denied sexually abusing the girls when questioned by police, and asked for an attorney, according to the reports. Police say they stopped questioning him at that point.

Quate has given different versions of what happened to the his youngest daughter. One of the Las Vegas police reports says when questioned about “his involvement in the murder,” Quate “admitted to committing the crime” and participating in the concealment of the girl’s death. The reports offer no other detail about what he admitted.

The case has triggered charges in St. Clair County of concealment of a homicidal death against Quate and his wife. They have not faced other charges in the girl’s death.

In a jailhouse interview with a Post-Dispatch reporter last week, Quate said the death was accidental. He said Alysha choked to death on a piece of meat as he spanked her to punish her for bothering one of her older sisters.

After trying to revive her, he and his wife stored her body in a plastic bin for years, fearing reporting her death would mean their other children being taken away, he said.

Quate is next due in court on Friday for hearings on whether there is enough evidence to hold him on suspicion of child abuse and child pornography. The latter case stems from images police say they found on his cellphone showing prepubescent girls.

Odell-Quate is expected to be extradited to Illinois to face her charge of concealing a homicidal death.

Belleville home

For most of the 14 to 15 years they were married, Quate and his wife lived in a home in the 200 block of Lebanon Avenue in Belleville that Quate inherited from his adopted parents, he told the Post-Dispatch. It was there that the youngest child died in 2012 or 2013.

At some point, all the children had been pulled from public school, with Quate saying he home-schooled them.

School records from the Belleville Public School District show the youngest child attended preschool at Washington School from August through October 2011. The two older girls attended Washington and then Douglas Elementary School until January 2013.

At some point, school officials alerted the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services after seeing Quate “inappropriately kiss” one of his daughters as he dropped her off at school. Another time, someone reported bruises on one of the daughters. Odell-Quate told police that the cases were determined to be unfounded.

Asked about contacts with the family, a spokeswoman for DCFS said she had no comment. Any records of previous abuse or neglect investigations would be considered confidential under state law, the department said in a letter.

Odell-Quate told Las Vegas police that in November 2015, an investigator for DCFS told her that she and her husband were again under investigation. It’s not clear what might have triggered that investigation. Odell-Quate said her husband ordered the family to pack up their belongings and forced her to prostitute herself at the Casino Queen. They moved to Las Vegas in January 2016, where Odell-Quate continued to work as a prostitute.

Quate said his wife hid their daughter’s body in the garage of a random abandoned house in Centreville before they left the area.

The DCFS spokeswoman said discovery of Alysha’s remains last week triggered an abuse investigation of the Quates, which is pending.

Kristen Taketa of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

Christine Byers is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.