Tyrone Hassel: How Did He Die? Who Killed Him?

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ABC’s ’20/20: Love. Honor. Betray’ takes us back to New Year’s Eve of 2018 when Tyrone Hassel fell to his tragic demise, cutting short his days serving the US Army at a very young age. The rapture of the New Year on the horizon was ruptured by the news of his death as friends and family were left shell-shocked. The episode not only delves into all the events that led to the unfortunate murder, but it also contains the investigators’ hunt for truth and the identity of the perpetrator/s. All in all, it provides a detailed account of the entire case through court recordings and interviews with people related to the victim and the case.

Tyrone Hassel Was Ambushed in His Father’s Home

On August 23, 1995, Tyrone Hassel Jr. and LaShanda Jones of Benton Harbor in Berrien County, Michigan, were blessed with a baby boy whom they named Tyrone Hassel III. His birth packed the Hassel-Jones household with a wave of bliss as they celebrated the adorable addition to their family. Apart from the love and care of his parents, he grew up surrounded by the support of his siblings — brothers Ty’quan Hassel, Ty’quae Hassel, Tyreik Hassel, Zailyn Hassel, Carmeron Gavin, Benny Newman, and Tyshon Newman and sisters Zaiyah Hassel and Keiaeja Palmer.

Tyrone obtained his early education from local education institutions at Benton Harbor Area Schools. He was an outstanding student, and his academic excellence was recognized by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, which rewarded Tyrone and a few other seniors with a college scholarship. Aside from maintaining high grades, he was also quite athletic and became a member of the Tigers marching band and Kappa League. The intensity of his potential was depicted through his decision to obtain training under the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program. In 2013, he made his family and friends proud by graduating with honors.

Tyrone opted to obtain his higher education in Mechanical Engineering at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. Despite living in a rough neighborhood, he was persistent for a better future, and his love for life furthered his prospects. Ultimately, in 2015, he made the choice of serving his nation by joining the army. Through tenacious grit and determination, the Benton Harbor native went from strength to strength and earned several awards, such as the Army Achievement Medal and the German Army Proficiency Badge. Tyrone also went overseas, specifically to South Korea, for nine months to serve a rotational deployment.

Tyrone’s profession had a significant contribution to his personal life as he met the love of his life in Kemia Martin, an Army Specialist. After spending some time together, the two developed a liking for each other and realized that they were meant to be. On May 17, 2017, Tyrone and Kemia tied the knot in the presence of their loved ones. The two became proud parents when they welcomed Tyrone Hassel IV, their very own bundle of joy, into their lives. On the professional front, Tyrone added another feather to his cap, the title of Army Sergeant, on October 31 of the same year. He was a benevolent person with a positive outlook towards life.

Tyrone was admired by many who appreciated his warm-hearted nature, free-spirited personality, and ability to lend a helping hand to those in need. He knew how to savor the sweet things in life and encouraged others to do the same. He was empathetic towards animals and adored dogs. In his downtime, the 23-year-old loved spending quality time with his family and enjoyed playing basketball, baseball, and pool. Therefore, his sudden death on New Year’s Eve in 2018 left everyone in utter disbelief and shock. At the time of his death, the couple and their young son were residing at the residence of Tyrone’s father in St. Joseph Township, Michigan.

Everything seemed fine until 11 pm on the fateful night of December 31, when the local police received a call from a panic-stricken woman who said, “I need help. My husband was shot. I need help.” The distraught caller was Army Sergeant Tyrone Hassel III’s wife, Kemia, who summoned the cops for help at 2086 Colfax Avenue. Upon their arrival, the police discovered the heavily injured body of the young father on the driveway. He was shot multiple times with bullet wounds on his head, neck, and torso. Though he was quickly moved to Spectrum Lakeland Hospital, Tyrone Hassel succumbed to the injuries sustained in the shooting and was pronounced dead. An investigation into his murder was soon launched.

Tyrone Hassel Was Backstabbed by a Loved One

Once the authorities were done securing the crime scene and collecting evidence, they held interviews with the loved ones to learn more about the life of Tyrone Hassel. When the police got to talking, they discovered that the Sergeant’s wife, Kemia, was having an affair with another soldier named Jeremy Cuellar, who was stationed at Fort Stewart in Georgia, where the married couple lived with their child. Since Kemia was allegedly unhappy with Tyrone and divorce would prove to be financially difficult for her, she and Jeremy hatched a plan together to get rid of her husband to be able to continue their relationship and gain all the financial benefits following his death. So, they decided to commit the deed during the holidays at the Sergeant’s father’s house.

While orchestrating the murder of Tyrone, Kemia and Jeremy used to discuss their plans over Snapchat as the social media app’s temporary messages could not be traced by anyone. Reports suggest that Jeremy even traveled to Michigan four times in the span of 12 days in December 2018 to get rid of their target for good. But just a few days before the fateful day of December 31, 2008, Jeremy had traveled to Chicago while he awaited instructions from Kemia to catch her husband by surprise, which he did on New Year’s Eve when Tyron, after attending a family gathering in Benton Harbor, returned to his father’s home in St. Joseph Township around 11 pm to bring his wife some food.

About 11 days after committing the gruesome murder, the suspected killers were arrested and taken into custody. At the trial, Kemia Hassel was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit murder. More than 11 years after the crime, she received a life imprisonment sentence without the possibility of parole in August 2019. Tyrone’s mother, Lashanda Jones, had a few words to say to her former daughter-in-law in court. She said, “I want you to spend every day suffering behind bars for the rest of your life, and I hope every time you close your eyes, my son taps you on the shoulders and smiles.”

As for Jeremy Cuellar, he tried to withdraw his guilty plea in July 2020, but his request was denied in August 2021. Moreover, Kemia appealed for a new trial supported by the claims of her being a victim of battered woman syndrome. However, the court denied her appeal and upheld her murder conviction.

Read More: Where Are Tyrone Hassel III’s Parents and Kid Now?