West Allis couple charged with kidnapping and murder

Posted at 7:20 PM, Jun 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-28 23:42:06-04

A West Allis couple is under arrest for the kidnapping and murder of their friend. Tess White was reported missing last month. Police say she was tortured, killed, and her body dumped in South Dakota.

Police have charged Tiffany Simmons and her boyfriend, Shanta Pearson with Tess White's death. Pearson's neighbor says he witnessed part of what was happening when White died but never realized it because he was deaf.

"I knew they seemed scared," says Bob Cecot.

He lives below Pearson. He was not sure what was going on the night of May 4  because he couldn't hear what they were saying. But Cecot could see Pearson and Simmon walk back and forth to their white truck, parked in a nearby lot, quite a few times through the night.

"I was freaked out," says Cecot when he later realized what they were walking to. 

Police say Tess White was riding around with Pearson and Simmons, who were looking to buy drugs. Simmons and White started fighting over stolen money, and that's when police say Pearson stopped his truck, tied White up and put her in the back.

He later parked and went into his home in West Allis and Simmons stayed behind.  In court documents, Simmons admitted to torturing White by putting lit cigarettes out on her body and punching her in the back for 45 minutes.

She admitted to killing White so she wouldn't tell police.  She describes trying to suffocate White by shoving plastic bags down her throat and holding her nose, but White spit out the bags.

Simmons said, "Tess begged for her life at this point."

Simmons then put a plastic bag over White's head.

"Strangled her with rope for approximately five minutes until Tess died," says Simmons.

The neighbor said he had no idea two lives were lost that night.

"I'm disgusted because she had a baby," says Cecot.

Police say white was 10 weeks pregnant when she was killed.

White's remains were found in South Dakota on May 17. Her aunt had reported her missing a few days earlier.

Police later arrested Simmons and Pearson in Colorado. They said they were driving to Pearson's mother house in Las Vegas. Police say they confessed to the murder.