Darren A. Nichols
The Detroit News
DEARBORN HEIGHTS -- Help was nearby from two bodyguards when teenage escort Cathleen Jassmine Hahn was stabbed so severely she was nearly cut in half, a lawyer for the men said Friday.
In a case of repeated near-rescues, the men twice banged on the door and repeatedly phoned the 16-year-old Southfield High School student, who was stabbed and beaten to death between Feb. 2 and Feb. 3, said James L. Galen Jr., a Clinton Township attorney whom police confirmed has been hired by an escort service he refused to identify. Two 911 calls for help didn't prevent the murder, he said.
"All are shocked and stricken in grief with this terrible tragedy," said Galen, who would not identify his clients, who police confirmed are providing them with information in the case. "In my 17 years as an attorney, I've never seen such a horrific crime."
Galen emerged to portray his clients as instrumental to helping police catch the man charged in Hahn's death at the same time that relatives are calling for charges against the agency.
"These people need to be brought to justice," said her mother, Michelle Hahn. "That wasn't my daughter. If she did these things, she was made to do it."
Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, said the agency does not face any charges at this time, but declined further comment. Dearborn Heights Police confirmed the service has cooperated with the investigation, but also declined further comment.
Shying from referring to his clients as adult industry workers, Galen said they didn't learn Jassmine Hahn's age until after her death. Michigan records show no driver's license in her name, and a friend, Kimberly Huffman of Detroit, said the girl routinely lied about her age. "She didn't look her age," Huffman said. "She looked older and acted older, very mature."
The revelations are the latest in the case since Hahn's nude body was discovered in a snowbank by firefighters responding to a minor blaze about 7:45 a.m. Saturday at the Dearborn West apartments.
Epigmenio Gomez, 23, a ceramic tile cutter who police said responded to an ad in the Detroit Free Press for her services, was arrested Sunday and charged Wednesday with three felony counts, including first-degree murder.
Galen said his clients are all in their early 20s. One, whom Hahn befriended, was with her at a hotel in Dearborn Heights before two men drove her to Gomez's apartment about 11 p.m., Galen said.
His account has not been confirmed by police. Galen said his clients spoke with police during a three-hour meeting Saturday afternoon. A statement was submitted under oath to prosecutors Wednesday.
According to Galen, the men waited in a van in a parking lot while Hahn visited Gomez. After an hour, they repeatedly called her cell phone. Flustered, they tried a back door. Gomez answered, but refused to open it, Galen said.
After waiting another 20 minutes and knocking again, they went to a convenience store and called 911, Galen said. Worried, they lied to police and said Hahn was pulled out of the complex around 1 a.m., Galen said.
They returned and saw an unmarked police car approaching the wrong building, Galen said. At 2 a.m., they called 911 from a White Castle. They stayed at the complex until 6 a.m. when they returned to the hotel, hopeful Hahn would return, Galen said.
"They didn't know what to do," he said. "My clients were instrumental in helping solve this heinous crime. They are not a part of the investigation other than as witnesses. The police had a terrible homicide that needed to be solved."
- You can reach Darren A. Nichols at (734) 462-2190 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sean Delaney
Press & Guide Newspapers
DETROIT/DEARBORN HEIGHTS - Dearborn Heights resident Epigmenio Gomez, 24, was sentenced Tuesday in Wayne County Circuit Court to life in prison without parole for brutally slaying a 16-year-old Southfield High School student.
He was found guilty Aug. 28 of first-degree murder for stabbing, beating and strangling Cathleen Jassmine Hahn of Southfield earlier this year at his Dearborn West apartment in the city's north end.
The teen's naked body was found Feb. 3 in a snow bank outside Gomez's second-floor window. Hahn had suffered more than 30 stab wounds and had been dead for several hours before she was discovered.
Gomez was arrested later that same morning in Ionia County for drunken driving. Tests showed his blood alcohol content was nearly triple the legal limit, which is 0.08.
Police believe Gomez, a tile cutter by trade, hired Hahn Feb. 2 to perform a sexual act at his apartment. The Southfield teen allegedly was employed with a Downriver escort service at the time of her death, earning in excess of $200 an hour for her services.
"That wasn't her — that's what they made her," said Hahn's grandmother, Pamela Hahn-Gliga. "She was my baby, and I miss her."
Hahn-Gliga watched over her granddaughter in Southfield for several years, and the two became close, she said. But a grandmother's love was not enough to save the troubled teen, who ran away from home less than three months before she was killed.
Hahn became involved with an escort service, police said, and started down a troubled path.
Hahn was dropped off outside Gomez's apartment at about 11:10 p.m. Feb. 2. She was responding to Gomez's request for a "blonde bombshell" advertised in a local newspaper, police said.
The arrangement was supposed to earn Hahn an "easy $200," but police said a disagreement over an extra $50 — allegedly for a second sexual act — would end up costing the teen her life instead.
"I think the general feeling in this case is that this was a 16-year-old girl who didn't know what she had gotten into," said Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Carin Goldfarb.
Gomez told a different story last month during his trial when he testified that Hahn had attacked him with a knife after he refused to pay her the additional $50.
There was a struggle, he said, and he was forced to choke the girl in order to get her to release the knife. During the fight, police said Hahn was stabbed multiple times in her abdomen.
But Goldfarb argued that Gomez's actions — stabbing Hahn more than 30 times and disposing of her body after she died — showed malicious intent.
"(Hahn's) body told us what happened to her," Goldfarb said. "Everytime he put that knife in her body, (he) made a decision to kill."
Hahn also suffered multiple lacerations over her body, Goldfarb said. As she lay dying, her killer left his apartment and hid in his basement for more than an hour before returning and disposing of the girl's by- then lifeless body.
Gomez testified that he wrapped up the body before throwing it out of his second-floor window. It would be discovered several hours later by members of the Fire Department, who were responding to a report of an apartment fire — one investigators believe Gomez intentionally set to cover up any evidence of the crime.
"This case was as baffling as it was heinous," Goldfarb said. "This case has haunted me for months — the sheer brutality of this attack, it's almost unthinkable."
A jury convicted Gomez in less than 45 minutes. But while justice has been served, Goldfarb said it might be cold comfort for Hahn's family and friends.
"I don't think anything could ever give them complete satisfaction — a person they all loved is now gone forever," she said. "But I hope that they'll now be able to begin the difficult process of moving on from this horrific ordeal."
- Contact Staff Writer Sean Delaney at (313) 359-7820 or email@example.com.