D.C. police officers continued to search yesterday through the Northwest Washington home of Cora Barnes, looking for clues to the identity of the person or persons who killed her and the child she was babysitting, the 3-year-old daughter of two D.C. police officers.
The D.C. medical examiner ruled yesterday that Barnes, 56, died of multiple stab wounds to the body and that Crystin Fletcher, whose parents are patrol officers in the 2nd District, died of stab wounds to the neck and strangulation.
They were found about 6 p.m. Thursday in a second-floor bedroom of Barnes' home at 4321 Second St. NW, a quiet, secluded block where neighbors yesterday expressed shock and grief at the death of the child and the woman some referred to as "her second mother."
"I know Cora was devoted to that little girl," said Anita Harrod, Barnes' neighbor for 28 years. "I've noticed the mother bringing that baby over there since she was a little infant in blankets, about 4 or 5 months old."
Crystin was treated as part of the neighborhood, and in nice weather she and Barnes would sit on the front porch and greet people as they walked by, Harrod said.
"She was like a little doll," she said. "She was truly a pretty little girl. She was just starting to grow, about at that toddler age when she was just beginning to walk.
"Mrs. Barnes gave her good care and was teaching her. She loved to talk and was always very nice and ladylike. It's just sad that someone her age couldn't see any more of her years than that. It's terrible that times are so bad."
Police said that Crystin was the daughter of Cortez Fletcher Jr., 33, a member of the police department for 13 years, and Crystal Fletcher, 33, a 10-year member.
Crystin's grandfather, Cortez Fletcher Sr., said his son and Crystal were married about four years ago. "This is a very close-knit family and we try to look out for each other; I'm talking spiritually," he said. "We're praying that somehow or another justice will be done."
According to Barnes' neighbors, she apparently cared for the child whenever the Fletchers were on duty, about five days a week. Neighbors said the child was apparently dropped off early Thursday afternoon, and that one of Barnes' daughters who also lives in the house found their bodies about 6 p.m.
There were no visable signs of a struggle, and there was no indication that force was used to enter the home, police said.
"She was a very careful person," Harrod said. "She didn't leave her doors unlocked and I'm just baffled how someone could have gotten in there. I can't imagine what kind of person could have done this."
Police said they have not determined a motive for the slayings.
Another D.C. police officer, whose husband also works for the department, said that the incident "has everyone numb and in shock."
"When they leave their jobs," she said of husbands and wives who both work on the force, "they just go home and try not to mix family and work. It just brings on stress. Something like this really makes you think."