Zion Foster case: Jaylin Brazier's search history days after her death

Jaylin Brazier will return to court on Tuesday as his trial for the murder of his cousin, Zion Foster, continues into its seventh day of testimony.

Brazier, 25, was originally and convicted of lying to police. While serving time for that crime, he was charged with murder, though Foster's body has never been found.

You can watch our gavel-to-gavel coverage on FOX2Detroit.com, and FOX 2's YouTube channel.

Through six days of testimony, a total of 26 people have taken the stand. They included Foster's mother, Ciera Milton, Brazier's ex-girlfriend, Katrina Smith, and a large number of police and investigators.

Monday's testimony was primarily focused on text exchanges. It also included the seizing of two cell phones that police took in June 2023. Not a lot of details were provided with the phones – but more is expected to be discussed Tuesday in court.

Monday afternoon, the detective who pulled messages from Foster's phone testified. There were thousands of messages exchanged between the two. In court on Monday, they started with texts in December 2020. Click here for a full recap of the messages.

Detective Sarah Markel with the Detroit Police Department testified that she extracted evidence from multiple cell phones – but not the phone he had the night Foster died. She testified that phone had been wiped clean on January 7 – two days after Foster's death.

However, data from his phone after her death was able to be retrieved. They included Google searches of the following:

  • "January 10th, 2022: What happens your body if you drink peroxide?"
  • "January 12th, 2022: How to tell if you're being watched by police"
  • "January 12th, 2022: How to tell if there's a stakeout on your property"
  • "January 15th, 2022: Why haven't I been arrested if I'm being investigated?"
  • "January 15th, 2022: How much Motrin can kill you."
  • "January 15th, 2022: How does the FBI satellite find people."
  • "January 15th, 2022: Can putting a toaster in the bath kill you?"
  • "January 15th, 2022: What happens when you report someone to the FBI?"
  • "January 15th, 2022: What happens if you put a fork in an outlet?"

Markel also testified about items that had been deleted – including about deleting a call history and whether police can listen to a previous phone call.

Markel also reviewed Foster's phone – which had over 4,000 messages on it between her and Brazier.

In December 2020 - Foster and Brazier had a detailed conversation about Foster needing a ‘plan b’. The next day, Dec. 28, she told Brazier via text that ‘it came today’. ‘It’ was revealed to be Foster's period. 

In March 2021 - Brazier told Foster he was about to be single with graphic language to explain why.

Many of the texts were extremely sexually explicit. 

In May 2021, Brazier sent a message saying that his family was talking about if the two of them may have been having a sexual relationship – and both of them lashed out in the text about the possibility. 

Also in May 2021, Brazier offered Foster a place to stay in the basement of his place on Greenfield. 

On May 26, 2021, Brazier told Foster to have her friend delete all of her conversations about "what's going on". There was no context included about what Brazier meant about ‘what was going on’.

The massive document took most of the afternoon to read through, even as the prosecution skipped a majority of the texts.

In December 2021, Brazier talks about how he's gotten into LSD and acid.

The final message from Foster came on Dec. 31, 2021: a Happy New Year message. 

After Markel finished reading through the texts, she confirmed she was also involved in pulling data from the cell phones seized during Brazier's arrest in the summer of 2023.

Monday's testimony wrapped just as Markel was about to discuss the two phones found when Brazier was arrested in 2023. That's expected to be discussed in depth on Tuesday.

What happened to Zion Foster?

Foster was last seen by her mom, Ciera Milton, on Jan. 4, 2022.

Milton said Foster was picked up by her cousin at his home in Detroit to smoke marijuana. Milton said Foster texted her later saying she was coming home, but never did. When she started searching and couldn't find her, she went to Eastpointe Police and then Detroit Police, who eventually went to Brazier's home in Detroit and talked to him. 

Foster's phone last pinged in Detroit – which is what prompted Detroit Police to show up at Brazier's door.

Milton recalls Brazier telling her "he hadn’t seen or been in contact with her 'for three years' which is impossible when you were in my driveway and gave me a hug."

Milton said Brazier showed her surveillance footage, but there were gaps in the recordings. She filled in those gaps from a Ring doorbell camera that showed someone believed to be Brazier picking up Foster at her house in Eastpointe the night of her disappearance and bringing her back to his house.

Then, she said, she and others searched the area around Brazier's home.

"That prompted me to go to Jaylin's house. We searched the neighborhood, we looked through abandoned houses, we looked through dumpsters," she said.

Brazier was arrested a few days after Foster disappeared. He was initially arrested for lying to police during the investigation and ultimately pleaded no contest, as part of a plea deal. 

"I was on panic mode ever since that happened," Brazier said in court in 2022. "Her mother at one point talked to me, and I couldn't bring myself to (tell her) 'Your daughter just died.' What do I do?"

In March 2022, Brazier admitted to lying to Eastpointe Police about the investigation. 

"I can't even explain it, what happened. I can just tell you my honest reaction," Brazier claimed in court in March 2022. "One minute she was cool, she was fine. She laid back for a minute and the next thing I knew she was just dead. I don't know what caused it, I did not cause it."

Detroit Police Department spent several months in 2022 picking through tons of trash at a Macomb County landfill, but Foster's body was never found. The search was ultimately called off in October 2022.

'He threw her in a dumpster'

Brazier's story changed wildly over the first few months of the investigation. He first said that he didn't know where she was before ultimately admitting they had been together and that she had died with him as they were smoking marijuana. He then later said he put her body in a dumpster. 

"He said that my baby just died, and then that he threw her in a dumpster, like she was trash," Foster's mom said.

He did not say that he killed her.

"I reacted stupidly off of fear and panic like I've never felt before in my life," he said in court during his sentencing for the initial charge of lying to police.

Detroit Police then spent the summer of 2022 searching through a Macomb County landfill as that's where it was believed her body ultimately would have been when the dumpster was emptied. After several months of searching, they were unable to find her remains or evidence of her remains.

But a year after the search, in June 2023, Brazier was charged with her murder but maintained his innocence.

Milton said she did not believe Brazier.

"It wasn't too long ago that I saw you and even knowing that my baby had been in contact with him, I kept going to his house. I just wanted him to tell me the truth," said Milton.

In March 2022, he was sentenced to between 23 months to 4 years in prison.

Brazier's release and charges

In January 2023, Brazier was released from custody after completing just 10 months of his sentence. The 23-year-old completed a 90-day Special Incarceration Program - essentially a boot camp program - which granted his release. 

In August 2023, Brazier returned to a Wayne County courtroom for his preliminary hearing, which stretched over two days. 

He sat in court emotionless during the hearing as details emerged about Zion’s bank accounts and text messages — prosecutors say — Brazier shared with his girlfriend.

One of those messages included a link to a Google search that questioned if someone could be charged for murder if a body isn't discovered.

After two days of testimony, Brazier was bound over for trial.