The three children killed last week in their Baltimore apartment suffered multiple injuries from cutting wounds and blunt force trauma to the head, according to autopsy results released yesterday by the Maryland chief medical examiner's office.
Asphyxiation also contributed to the deaths of two of the children, said Karen V. Poe, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office.
Poe declined to discuss details of the autopsy results but said the deaths were among the grisliest her office has seen in decades. Last week, Baltimore police said that one of the children was beheaded and that the other two were nearly decapitated.
David R. Fowler, the chief medical examiner, "has no recollection of ever seeing anything like this before" in his 14 years with the office, Poe said.
In 1983, the medical examiner's office investigated the case of a Baltimore County man who beheaded his infant son on Christmas while under the influence of PCP.
"But this time the circumstances are far different," Poe said.
Poe said Lucero Quezada, 8, died of cutting wounds and blunt force trauma to the head. Her brother, Ricardo Espinoza, 9, and their cousin, Alexis Espejo, 10, died of cutting wounds, blunt force trauma to the head and asphyxiation.
The children -- a brother and sister and their cousin, all Mexican immigrants apparently in the country illegally -- were slain Thursday afternoon in their first-floor apartment in northwest Baltimore. They were discovered a short time later by their parents, who operate a food business.
Yesterday, a relative who spoke on condition of anonymity said Alexis's 2-year-old sister, Monserrat, was present with her mother when the bodies were discovered. The mother had just picked up the child from her babysitter, the relative said.
On Friday, Baltimore police charged Adan Espinoza Canela, 17, and Policarpio Espinoza, 22, with three counts of first-degree murder. According to relatives, Policarpio Espinoza was the uncle of two of the children, and Adan Espinoza Canela was their cousin.
Yesterday, Baltimore homicide detectives said they still know of no motive for the crime, but additional details could emerge today, when the two suspects are scheduled to appear in court for a bail review hearing.
Miguel Monterrubio, press secretary for the Mexican consulate in the District, said yesterday that the children's bodies probably will be released to their parents tomorrow. The consulate will then help the family ship the bodies to their native village in Veracruz for burial.
A trust fund has been created at Bank of America to help the families.
Donations can be made to the Espinoza-Quezada Trust Fund at any Bank of America branch in Maryland, the District, Northern Virginia or the mid-Atlantic region, according to a statement released by Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.
Staff writers Nurith C. Aizenman, Ian Shapira and Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this report.