Slayings of Second Largo Mother and Daughter Redirect Police Investigation

Karen Lofton and her daughter, Karissa, were found shot in their locked home Jan. 26, 2009.
Karen Lofton and her daughter, Karissa, were found shot in their locked home Jan. 26, 2009. (Family Photo - Family Photo)
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By Aaron C. Davis and William Wan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, March 29, 2009

The fear and mystery surrounding two Prince George's County mother-daughter homicides began two months ago today, when police found the bodies of Karen and Karissa Lofton in their home in a quiet Largo area neighborhood.

Whether their deaths are found to be linked to the killings last week of Delores and Ebony Dewitt, whose bodies were found burned in a stolen car less than a mile away, the similarities between the victims have refocused attention on the Loftons.

Their family members and friends said they have struggled to accept their loved ones' sudden and brutal deaths.

"The wounds are still very deep," said Karen Price of Lanham, a sister-in-law of Karen Lofton's. "We're all still reeling from their deaths. We want this case resolved so badly."

The case will be the subject of an episode of "America's Most Wanted," possibly this weekend, said Karen Lofton's ex-husband, Kirkland Lofton Sr. He has been working through a relative with John Walsh, the host of the long-running TV show, to feature the Jan. 26 killings of Karen, 45, and Karissa, 16.

The show posted a story about the slayings on its Web site and has filmed a segment in the victims' home in the 10800 block of Southall Drive.

Family members and friends said the shooting deaths of the school nurse and teenager who loved fashion and modeling cut short the lives of a mother and daughter who had much to offer.

Karen Lofton, who sometimes used her maiden name, Sherill, had just started working at Lake Arbor Elementary School in Mitchellville. She worked one day, according to a school employee who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, and never returned for orientation. The school later got a call that Lofton had been found dead.

Karissa, a junior at Riverdale Baptist High School in Upper Marlboro, was an aspiring model and fashion designer who had recently enrolled in the Girls of Character program at Woodstream Church of Mitchellville, where the family worshipped before switching to Hosanna Ministries in the District.

At a filled-to-capacity double funeral at Riverdale Baptist Church Jan. 31, several speakers characterized the mother and daughter as close friends who enjoyed spending time together.

Karen Lofton was born and raised in the District, said her former husband and sister-in-law. Lofton was raised by her godmother, Catherine Shedrick, on South Dakota Avenue NE.

"She didn't have a lot as a child," Kirkland Lofton said, "so she worked hard for success and worked to make sure her kids had a lot."

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