Two adults and a 7-year-old girl were found shot to death in their Prince George's County house early yesterday, their bodies scattered around the lower level of the house and the hands of the adults bound behind their backs with lamp cord, county police said.
Stephen E. Wade told police he found the bodies when he returned to his house at 3616 St. Johns Place near Glenarden about 2:45 a.m.
Police identified the dead, all of whom lived at the house, as Wade's 7-year-old daughter Stephanie; his girlfriend and Stephanie's mother, Betty Jean Johnson, 27, and Wade's brother Phillip, 26.
No arrest had been made last night, and police said they had no motive for the slayings. Investigators said there was no sign of forced entry and that burglary had been ruled out as a motive.
Wade, 31, was questioned at police headquarters for several hours, but police said he was not a suspect in the killings. Police said they are looking at the possibility that the deaths are drug related.
Wade has nine drug and weapons charges pending against him in Prince George's Circuit Court and is free on $25,000 bond. A county grand jury indicted him Dec. 30 on charges of possession with intent to distribute PCP and cocaine, possession of PCP and cocaine, two counts of transporting a handgun -- a .357 magnum and a .22 caliber automatic handgun -- possession of an unregistered handgun, possession of a short-barrel shotgun and maintaining a common nuisance, according to court records.
Neighbors said the residents of the split-level house made of brick with white siding were friendly but kept largely to themselves.
"They were just normal, quiet people," said Tommie Leak, who lives a few doors away. "It's as much a shock to us as anybody. If anybody told me this would happen, I wouldn't have believed it."
Neighbors said the family had lived at the house for at least a year, but Wade had given police a different address when he was arrested Oct. 18 on the drug and weapons charges.
The state medical examiner's office said Phillip Wade died of multiple gunshot wounds in the head, Johnson died of strangulation and multiple gunshot wounds to the head, and Stephanie Wade died of a gunshot wound in the buttocks.
Police said Johnson's body was discovered on the floor next to a bed in the master bedroom, around the corner from the recreation room. Stephanie Wade's pajama-clad body was on a sofa in the recreation room, and Phillip Wade's body was sprawled at the edge of the sofa. Both adults were fully clothed, according to police spokesman Robert Law.
Neighbors in the modest residential community said the house is equipped with a burglar alarm and floodlights, which are usually burning every night. They said the family owns two small poodles, and police said the dogs were at the home yesterday.
Law described the house as "very well kept" and said that although some things had been disturbed, it did not appear that the premises had been ransacked.
Stephanie Wade was a second grader at Ardmore Elementary School in Landover, where school officials said that during classes yesterday other children were not aware of her death.
"She had everything at the house any girl could want," said Leak, whose granddaughter played often with the Wade child. Leak said both parents were "devoted" to the girl, and that Stephanie had expensive video games, an above-ground swimming pool and recreation equipment in the back yard.
Yesterday, the house appeared from the outside to be undisturbed, its porch light burning above the mailbox that matches the red trim.
"Her favorite color was red," Leak said of Johnson. "Almost everything she wore had red in it."
In the driveway were Stephen Wade's Cadillac, bearing District of Columbia vanity plates that read "SWADE," and a late-model Chrysler that neighbors said was driven by Johnson.
Leak said Johnson had recently completed classes at a computer school in Virginia but that he did not know whether Johnson had been employed. Neither neighbors nor police said they knew where any of the adults were employed.
Stephen Wade called police at 3:04 a.m., Law said, and when police arrived several of Wade's friends were at the house.
Wade, who told police he had been out with friends, then spent several hours at the criminal investigation division headquarters in Forestville before police said he was not a suspect.
In midmorning, three men who identified themselves as Wade's friends arrived at the house. They said they had heard about the slayings on the radio but knew of no reason why Wade's relatives would have been shot.
"Everything was fine" between Wade and his family, said a man who identified himself as Jeff Montgomery of Hyattsville. "Everything was perfectly okay."
Montgomery said he and Wade had been out together the night before. "We were out having a good time," he said, shaking his head at the news.