It began early Saturday afternoon as a spur-of-the-moment neighborhood outing in West Baltimore. Donzella Peters, 21, needed to wash some clothes and was planning to take her laundry over to the Snow White Laundromat, a block away.
Her 17-year-old brother George decided to go along on the errand to escort Donzella Peters' 3-year-old daughter and their 3-year-old nephew and 2-year-old niece, who all clamored to go outside in the warm spring sunshine.
Police do not know if the small group ever made it to the laundromat. But around 6 p.m. Saturday, 3 1/2 hours after they left the Peters' home at 2436 Linden Ave., George Peters Jr. and his nephew Dominick were found stabbed to death on the outskirts of Fort Meade.
The next morning at 11:30, a passing motorist found Dominick's 2-year-old sister Sherrill alive, but bleeding from knife wounds, near the C&O Canal in the Seneca area of Montgomery County-35 miles west of Fort Meade.
But police and FBI officials have been unable to find a trace of either Donzella Peters or her 3-year-old daughter Danielle Shoulders at either site.
Yesterday, more than 50 people from a variety of law enforcement agencies and rescue services scoured both the Fort Meade and Seneca areas, hoping to find some clue as to the whereabouts of the little girl and the 21-year-old woman, who was eight months pregnant.
Meanwhile, FBI official - who have jurisdication in the case because the bodies of George and Dominick Peters were found on federal property-were questioning Donzella Peters' ex-boyfriend in connection with the family members' bizarre and greusome odyssey.
The victims, law enforcement authorities believe, were caught up on the fallout of the stormy on-and-off relationship between Donzella Peters and Kenneth Howard Neal. Neal, 22, who Donzella Peters' relatives says is the father of her unborn child, has been charged with murdering her brother and nephew.
Neal was arrested Sunday at his mother's Baltimore home with blood stains on his shirt and hands, according to an affidavit filed in federal court by the FBI.
FBI officials also said they discovered blood stains and mud on the back seats of a red automobile, which they said had been rented by Neal. In addition, his mother found a bloodstained knifed beneath a bed in the house, and turned it over to the FBI.
Yesterday Montgomery County firemen searching the Seneca area went out in rowboats to drag the canal in search of the bodies of Donzella Peters and her daughter. The dragging started, one law enforcement source said, after 2-year-old Sherrill Peters told FBI agents "Donny's in the water."
Family members, attorneys and police yesterday all pictured the Peters-Neal relationship as an explosive one, which resulted in several violent confrontations between them, an allegation of rape which Peters first made against Neal and then withdrew, and the brief abduction of Peters' 3-year-old daughter.
Neal, who for three years had worked as laborer and driver for a Baltimore trucking firm, began seeing Peters about 16 months ago, according to police and family members. He met her at Baltimore's Mt. Olive Baptist Church where Neal sang in the choir.
Relatives said Peters was hospitalized once for bruises and cuts after one argument with Neal. They said she broke off the relationship last December as a result of the pair's frequent quarrels.
She was two months pregnent with Neal's child last January when Neal kidnaped Peters' 3-year-old daughter Danielle Shoulders, police said.
Larry Rosenberg, the assistant U.S. attorney who is prosecuting that abduction case, said Peters planned to absort the pregnancy. "You're taking mine, I'm going to take yours," Rosenberg quoted Neal as saying to Peters when the abduction occurred.
Rosenberg said Neal took the child to an Annapolis house and released her unharmed seven hours later when Peters agreed to meet with him.
He was arrested and released on his own recognizance, according to police. Neal was charged with abducting Peters 10 days later at the point of a shotgun and taking her to a Baltimore residence where she allegedly was rape repeatedly, according to the FBI affidavit.
Neal was jailed and charged with abduction and rape but Peters later told Rosenberg that she had changed her mind. She said she was just mad before. . .she didn't want to prosecute. . .she was pregnant with his child and they were planning to get married," Rosenberg said yesterday. These charges were then dropped.
Neal pleaded guilty to the abduction charge March 14, and was released on his own recognizance from Baltimore City jail in early April. He was awaiting sentencing April 30 when he was arrest Sunday.
Rosenberg said Peters told him that although she was not seeing any other man Neal was extemely jealous of her.
Lawrence House, foster brother of George Peters, Jr. and the missing Donzella Peters, said the Peters family was constantly "harassed" by Neal, who he said would call the Linden Avenue home "all the time at any hour looking for Donzella."
He said Neal's red 1970 automobile could "almost always" be seen circling the house.
"We never like him. He was a crazy man," said House, who added that he lived with George all his life. "I know George hated his guts and wouldn't get caught dead in any car of his (Neal's).If he got in he (George Peter Jr.) had to be forced," he said.
The West Baltimore neighborhood in which the five relatives were last seen is one of Baltimore's poorest areas, pocketed by dozens of abandoned rowhouses.
In contrast, Neal's neighborhood is marked by neatly kept brick rowhouses with manicured front lawns. He livered there with his mother Mary Brayboy and two sisters.
Last night Sherrill Peters was released from Children's Hospital and returned to Baltimore in the company of her mother, Georgetta Peters, Donzella's and George Jr.'s sister.
Earlier yesterday Georgetta Peters watched as her dughter frolicked in a playpen at the hospital. She said Neal had never physical threatened her or her children before.
She said she was seeing a doctor when her two children left with her borther and sister for the laundromat. She picked Sherill up in her arms and said, "I don't know what to say." CAPTION: Picture, Donzella Peters and her daughter are objects of search by area police and the FBI. AP; Map, no caption, By Dave Cook-The Washington Post