Woman, 2 Children Found Slain in Northeast D.C. Apartment

By Annie Gowen and Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, March 22, 2009

A woman and two young children were found slain in Northeast Washington yesterday, and D.C. police said the homicides might be the result of a domestic dispute.

D.C. police who were called to the scene had to force their way into an apartment in the 2000 block of Maryland Avenue NE. They found a woman and two children dead inside from what police sources said appeared to be stab wounds.

The woman was identified by a police source as Erika Peters, 36. The source said she was the mother of the slain boys, Eric Peters, 11, and Dakota Peters, 10.

A man found in the apartment was taken to a hospital for treatment of superficial chest wounds, police sources said last night. Police consider him a suspect.

A toddler girl was taken from the apartment screaming, neighbors said. Neighbors and police said she did not appear to be physically injured.

Kimberly Trimble, Erika Peters's sister, said that her sister had lived in the apartment with her boyfriend for three years. She said the relationship was troubled.

Bobby Harper, Erika Peters's father, said his daughter was an active member of Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church on Rhode Island Avenue NE, where she was involved in the dance ministry. She was hearing-impaired and signed during gospel concerts and special events.

Harper said he was supposed to pick up the children yesterday for an outing. "I don't know what happened. All I know is that my baby is dead."

At the Carver Terrace Apartments, where investigators continued their work last night, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said during a news conference, "It's an awful, awful thought that something like this should ever happen. This breaks the hearts of all the residents of the District of Columbia. It just doesn't get any worse in my mind than young people losing their lives potentially at the hands of another human being. Especially kids this young."

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said at a news conference that the investigation is in its preliminary stages and that officers are trying to determine whether police or social workers from the city's Child and Family Services Agency had prior contact with the family. Crying family members arrived throughout the day and evening at the low-slung brick building, which has a clear view, up Maryland Avenue, of the Capitol building.

Neighbors said that Erika Peters had two older children who often played kickball and football in the courtyard of the apartment building. The surviving girl, neighbors said, often communicated with her mother using sign language.

"They always complained they didn't have anywhere to play outside," recalled neighbor Paulette Smith, a D.C. corrections employee. "Basically they were a good group. One time a rainbow came out, and they took pictures of it. All the kids were standing around looking at it. I guess you never know who you are living next to."

Staff writers Clarence Williams and Katherine Shaver and researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

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