Man Probably Killed Wife, 2-Year-Old, Police Say

Prince George's County Police Chief Melvin C. High, center, and other police officials at the townhouse complex.
Prince George's County Police Chief Melvin C. High, center, and other police officials at the townhouse complex. (By Hamil R. Harris -- The Washington Post)
By Allison Klein and Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 3, 2006

A couple and their toddler son were found shot to death yesterday in a townhouse in Prince George's County in an apparent domestic killing, police said.

Prince George's Lt. Terence Sheppard said patrol officers found the bodies of a man, a woman and a 2-year-old boy just before 5:30 p.m. in the 10600 block of Campus Way South in Largo.

Sheppard said the crime was apparently a murder-suicide. "It looks like the father was the gunman," he said.

According to Sheppard, the couple's other two children -- the 2-year-old's twin and their 5-year-old brother -- were playing outside at the time of the shooting and found the bodies. One body was in the doorway, one just inside the door and the third in a bedroom. The children went to a neighbor, who called police.

Police identified the victims as Richard Earl Sperling, 38; Stephanie Marie Sperling, 34; and Taylor Sperling, 2.

Sheppard said Richard Sperling worked as an armed security guard, and police are looking into whether the gun used in the killing belonged to the security company.

Neighbor Jennifer Lowery-Bell, who knew the family, said the couple had three children together and were married last week.

Lowery-Bell said police had been called to the townhouse in the past because of allegations that the husband abused the wife. She said Stephanie Sperling had lived in the neighborhood for about six years. "She would come to all of the Neighborhood Watch functions and brought her children. She was a positive person," Lowery-Bell said.

Stephanie Sperling's relatives gathered at the home last night. Stephen King, who said he was her twin brother, walked outside the townhouse, saying: "Every day, tell your loved ones you love them. Every day, you never know when you're going to miss them. In the middle of an argument, tell them you love them."

Betty Wise, a neighbor, is president of the Campus Way South Homeowners Association. The area near Prince George's Community College "is really a quiet community. It is a very active community. And this cuts to the heart," she said.

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