Within a day after Prince George's County police found five bodies in a Landover apartment, investigators had tentatively identified three of the victims of what police described as drug-related slayings.
But it took detectives almost a week to verify the names of the four men and one woman -- all natives of Jamaica -- who were shot in the chest and head.
Investigators said they found a trail of fake names, ages and addresses apparently designed to hinder law enforcement agencies, a characteristic of so-called posses, loosely organized groups of Jamaicans active in illegal drug trade.
"That's definitely one reason why it took so long to identify all of the victims," said one county officer, who asked not to be identified. "The Jamaican posses have raised the deception to a higher level."
In the Landover slayings, none of the victims was carrying photo identification. One man had three pieces of paper in his pocket: an airline ticket, a dry cleaning ticket and a New York City traffic ticket -- each carrying the name of a different person.
County police were helped in their identification by D.C. police, who, according to police sources, recognized three of the victims as having been arrested after a raid last August on a suspected drug trafficking group.
But even with that lead, detectives had to check and recheck the information with various law enforcement agencies before saying for sure that the slaying victims were actually who they were believed to be.
Two of the three Landover victims who were arrested in August after D.C. police raided an apartment at 5804 Foote St. NE gave court officials misinformation.
One of them, Richard Alexander Williams, 30, of Brooklyn, N.Y., told District officials in August that his name was Alexander Williams. He said he lived at 5402 W. Forest Rd. in Landover, a nonexistent address.
A second of the Landover victims, Leonard Francis, 35, also of Brooklyn, had told D.C. police his name was Peter Hamilton, he lived at 3240 Taylor St. NW, also nonexistent, and that his nickname was J.J. Prince George's County police knew Francis by the nickname "Chief."
Three other persons arrested in the Foote Street drug raid in August, who were not natives of Jamaica, also gave officials bogus information.
A fourth Landover victim has been identified as Lloyd G. (Donnie) Chambers, 34, of Landover. The last victim was identified Thursday as Carlene Cassandra Hamilton, 20, of Brooklyn.
County police said yesterday a woman who survived the shooting was still in serious but stable condition at the Prince George's Hospital Center, where she is recovering from a bullet wound in the neck. The woman, whose name has not been released, is under protection by county police.
Police are still looking for three suspects in the shootings.