Details Emerge in Killings of Ebony and Delores Dewitt in Largo

After the slayings, mourners set up a memorial for Ebony Dewitt at the home where she and her mother Delores Dewitt lived. The two were found in a burning car.
After the slayings, mourners set up a memorial for Ebony Dewitt at the home where she and her mother Delores Dewitt lived. The two were found in a burning car. (By Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)
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By Aaron C. Davis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A chill went down Courtney Hicks's back when she arrived at her family's Largo home after 10 p.m. The lights were on, her sister's jacket was by the door and her mother's car was in the driveway. Everything seemed in place that March 15 night -- except that when she called out, no one answered.

Hicks, 17, said the hair on her neck stood up, the same way it had in the fall when she found the small two-story house burglarized. She turned on every light. She checked her mother's and sister's rooms, then left and began frantically calling their cellphones. About 2 a.m., she returned to find the lights still on and the house still empty.

Two hours later, as Hicks worried, police found two bodies in a burning car nearby, one in the back seat and the other in the trunk. Authorities identified them later as Hicks's sister Ebony Dewitt, 20, and mother, Delores Dewitt, 42.

"I thought for sure something had gone wrong," said Hicks, a student at Prince George's County Community College. "But I never thought in a million years that it would be the outcome that it was."

The possibility that the killings of the Dewitts are linked to the slayings of another mother and daughter -- Karen and Karissa Lofton, found shot in their Largo home in January -- has prompted Prince George's County police to assign more than two dozen investigators to those cases.

Connected or not, detectives say each set of killings is baffling in its own right. The absence of an obvious suspect or motive -- an angry ex-boyfriend, a drug deal gone bad -- has made the slayings more unsettling for residents than any in years in Prince George's.

"This is so bizarre," Police Chief Roberto Hylton said of the two sets of killings. "Everybody's a person of interest."

In the past week, police have reexamined the Jan. 26 killings of the Loftons. Speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, police sources described some of what has been learned about the four killings.

Karen Lofton, a school nurse, and her 16-year-old daughter had gone to church at Hosanna Ministries in the District on Sunday, Jan. 25. That night, Karissa was working at the Golden Corral restaurant at the Boulevard at the Capital Centre. She was last seen leaving the restaurant about 9 p.m., family members said.

Shortly after 2:30 a.m., Karissa dialed 911 from her family home in the 10800 block of Southhall Drive.

Karissa told the operator she and her mother had been shot. She whispered into the phone, as if the gunman were still in the home, two sources said.

When police arrived less than five minutes later, the front door was locked. A side window was closed but unlocked. An officer crawled in; police searched the home, guns drawn.

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