Pr. George's 12-Year-Old Is Held in Two Killings

By Ruben Castaneda and Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, April 24, 2006

A 31-year-old woman and her 9-year-old son were found slain yesterday in their apartment in Prince George's County, and police took a child, identified by a source as the woman's 12-year-old son, into custody in connection with the killings.

The woman and the 9-year-old were found about 11 a.m. yesterday in the apartment where they lived in the 3700 block of Donnell Drive in Forestville, police said. Neighbors said the 12-year-old also lived there.

The source, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is ongoing, said the victims were stabbed. It was not clear whether other means were used in the killing.

"This is not a random act," said Cpl. Debbi Carlson, a police spokeswoman. "It apparently was a domestic dispute that turned deadly." Police did not release the names of the victims and did not specify the relationship of the 12-year-old to the others. They said the 9-year-old and his mother were dead at the scene but gave no details of the killings.

Taking a 12-year-old into custody in connection with a homicide is unusual in the Washington region but not unprecedented. Reports going back as far as 20 years show a few instances of children of about that age or younger being held in connection with killings.

It was not clear what action would be taken against the child taken into custody yesterday. Under Maryland law, a 12-year-old cannot be charged as an adult with homicide.

Police did not provide an account of the dispute that they said preceded the killings in the Penn Mar Apartments, a development of beige, garden-style buildings between Pennsylvania Avenue and Marlboro Pike. It was not clear when they occurred; Carlson said late yesterday that it was overnight but gave no further details

Neighbors who clustered outside their buildings for much of the day, trying to glean and exchange information, offered a view of the workings of the family, saying the elder boy frequently was left to take care of the younger one while their mother was away from the apartment.

Several neighbors said they thought the mother worked long hours, possibly in a grocery store.

"It's so sad," a neighbor, Kim Ford, said of the deaths.

She said she knew both children and that the elder boy "was a good kid." She said he was "always watching" the younger child. However, at least one neighbor told WRC (Channel 4) that the elder boy had a fierce temper.

Several neighbors said the younger boy had once acquired a reputation as a bit of a bully. But, they said, he was changing and had begun to mend his ways.

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