Michigan family in hiding after case of witness intimidation, officials say

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Witnesses in a horrific Macomb County rape case are now in hiding after their home was firebombed.

An entire family is on the run from a man prosecutors call a puppet master from prison. They say it is the worst case of witness intimidation they've seen in 25 years.

In tape recorded phone conversations from behind bars, an inmate can be heard issuing threats.

"Make it where they don't show up to court, hook it up to them. Just go at it. Beat Pud's (expletive)," one threat says.

The recordings were heard from inside the Macomb County Jail, and were made against a critical witness in a despicable case of sexual abuse.

Only months after the threats were made in spring 2017, the family's home was firebombed. The family targeted barely escaped with their lives.

Two months later, a mother, father, and six small kids remain in hiding after losing everything.

"Sleeping in the van with our kids. Trying to find other places that will accept a household of 8, which is not easy" says Ebony Walls. "I mean its been hell" she adds.

The trouble started back in 2011, when prosecutors say relative Mark Anthony Williams raped and impregnated his 12-year-old stepdaughter. After being forced to have an abortion, she ran to her aunt Ebony for help and police were notified. 

Soon after, prosecutors say Tabitha Barton, the child's mother began issuing threats towards Ebony and her family - just as she was told to do in those tape recorded phone calls from behind bars.

Williams was convicted in May 2017, and sentenced to 25 years to life for his crimes.

Prosecutors also charged him, his wife Tabitha, and another man with witness intimidation.

"It's unbelievable. Clearly the worst case of witness intimidation we've ever come across," says Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith.

Ebony says her home in Detroit was firebombed, due to a lack of protection. As a result, she stopped showing up to court hearings and the charges were eventually dismissed by a judge.

"Nobody else is going to protect us, so we have to do it ourselves," says Ebony.

Prosecutors say they are working on new options to ensure her safety, but need her to come back to court so charges can be re-instated. 

For now, Detroit Police are investigating the arson and keeping prosecutors updated.

An attorney for Mark Anthony Williams told 7 Action News he would not comment on the charges, without his client's approval.

So far, he's declined to make any statements or respond to our story. 

To make a donation to Ebony's family, you can visit the following link. All money raised will go to help pay for food, clothing and other living expenses. 

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