Suspects in Md. slaughter of 4 called Texas drug couriers

Two women and two children were found dead in filthy and deplorable living conditions above the garage of a home in the Lanham area early Friday morning.
By Matt Zapotosky and Rick Rojas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 8, 2010

Two drug couriers from Texas have been charged with first-degree murder in Friday's shooting of two women and two young children in a squalid Prince George's County apartment, police said, and law enforcement sources added that the killings stemmed from a drug debt the women failed to pay.

Prince George's Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton said Saturday that Darrell Lynn Bellard, 43, shot the four victims execution-style, firing multiple bullets into each one, and that T'keisha Nicole Gilmer, 18, blocked their escape. Bellard, of Dickinson, and Gilmer, of Texas City, were both being held.

"We believe that this was a drug relationship that went very bad," Hylton said. "Just the coldness of this execution, it's very troubling."

Killed were Dawn Yvette Brooks, 38; Mwasiti Sikyala, 41; Shayla Shante Sikyala, 3; and Shakur Sylvester Sikyala, 4. Brooks was the mother of the children, and Mwasiti Sikyala was their paternal aunt, authorities said. All lived in the 6800 block of Third Street in the Lanham area, where their bodies were discovered about 3 a.m. Friday in a garage apartment amid piles of trash and debris.

Police said they still do not know why the family was living in such horrid conditions -- in a dilapidated apartment above a garage with no toilet, running water or air conditioning. Police said they have removed tons of trash from the property and found containers of human feces. Hylton said investigators want to know why they would live like that when it appeared they were profiting from the drug trade.

In addition, the family appears to have roots in Prince George's. Online county records indicate that the Sikyala family has owned the Third Street property since 1993.

A woman who said she was a relative said the family was not transient and did not live in filth. "We are a proud family," the woman said. "We are from a foreign country, and we respect ourselves." She declined to give her name.

The woman said that the family had immigrated to the United States from Congo and that one of the slain women had an 18-year-old daughter who would soon be starting college.

"We are really hurt, and we want justice to be done," the woman said. Other family members declined to comment or could not be located.

Hylton said Bellard and Gilmer were known to travel from Texas to Prince George's County, where they met up with their local connections.

"Obviously, they had a relationship involving a drug sale," Hylton said. "At some point, there was some type of dispute."

Brooks and Sikyala had no criminal records in Maryland, according to online court records, although they have been sued for various debts. As of Saturday, Hylton said, authorities had removed 10 tons of compacted trash from the garage and an adjacent house.

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