A Takoma Park couple was found shot to death in the bedroom of their apartment early yesterday, apparently killed while their young daughter was sleeping in an adjacent room, Takoma Park police said.
The victims, found lying in a blood-soaked bed, were identified by police as Petty Officer 2nd Class Lorenzo Vener, 25, a payroll clerk at the Naval Security Station in the District, and Diorvett Vener, 24, head bank teller at Citibank's McPherson Square branch.
Takoma Park police may have talked to the man responsible for the shootings. Answering a complaint about 3:40 a.m. yesterday that gunshots were heard at the Park Ritchie apartment building at 7600 Maple Ave., three police officers went to apartment 701. A man answered the door and told the officers there were no problems, said Takoma Park police spokeswoman Barbara Young.
The officers returned to the police station, about a block away, then became suspicious after discussing the incident with a dispatcher, Young said. Four officers went back to the seventh-floor apartment, but no one answered the door, she said. As the officers were headed toward a lower floor to find the resident who had made the initial call, the officers heard screaming and rushed to the building's lobby, Young said.
In the lobby, the officers found a distraught resident who told them an unknown man had just entered the tenant's apartment through a bedroom window. The resident was unharmed, police said.
Officers then returned for a third time to apartment 701 and, unable to get in, called for the fire department to break open the door, Young said. The bodies were found in one bedroom, she said. The couple's 4-year-old daughter, Jahmilka, was found unharmed in an adjoining room. Police said it was unclear yesterday whether the child saw or heard the shootings.
Young said she did not know how much time had elapsed between the officers' first knock at the Veners' apartment and the discovery of the bodies. Police speculate the shootings occurred between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Young said the officers returned to the apartment building the second time because a report that shots have been fired "is an ominous message."
The slayings are the first homicides recorded this year in Takoma Park, which straddles the border of Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
Police yesterday declined to disclose some details about the shooting, including the type of weapon used. There were no signs of forced entry in the victims' apartment, Young said.
Friends and co-workers of the victims expressed grief and shock. Thomas Gaspard, president of Citibank's mid-Atlantic region, said Diorvett Vener was "a fine employee. We're all shocked and saddened by what has happened."
Citibank officials said Vener had transferred in August 1987 from a bank teller position in New York City to the Washington area because of her husband's military service.
Lt. Cmdr. Rob Donovan, spokesman for the Naval District in Washington, said Vener was a "super sailor" who was respected and well-liked.
Yesterday's slayings were the second double homicide in Takoma Park in two years. In July 1988, Milton T. Byrd, 41, and his girlfriend, Phyllis N. Jones, 19, were shot to death in the Parkview Towers apartment building on Maple Avenue in what police said was a drug-related, execution-style slaying.