Two toddlers died Sunday after being found unconscious in their home in Cheverly and their mother was arrested and charged with murder, the Prince George’s County police said.
Police said Sonya Spoon, 24, was taken into custody at the home on Forest Road after two unconscious children were reported there about 2 a.m.
Spoon was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, police said. They said they were trying to determine a motive in the deaths of the children — Ayden Spoon, who was 1, and Kayla Thompson, who was 3.
In a statement released late Sunday, county police said Spoon said the children had been suffocated.
After authorities found the children, they were taken to a hospital, where they died, county police said.
They said the official cause of the children’s death has not been determined.
According to public records, the house is occupied by Gary Spoon and his wife, Paivi Spoon.
There was no answer at the neat, split-level dwelling, where a sign on a side door reads “Gary L Spoon, Certified Public Accountant.” According to neighbors, the family has lived at the house for at least 20 years and Gary Spoon operates a business out of it. Paivi Spoon, according to an online biography, has had a career in government in her native Finland and the United States.
The couple have two grown children, a son and a daughter, according to the biography. According to public records, the daughter is Sonya Spoon of Chesapeake Beach, Md. Those records gave her age as 26.
Neighbors in Chesapeake Beach said that Sonya Spoon and her children had been living in recent months with her parents in Cheverly.
Neighbors in Cheverly recalled seeing young children around the house recently.
“I’ve seen grandbabies in passing over there,” said Millicent Forbes, who has lived across the street from Gary and Paivi Spoon for two decades. “I think it must’ve been grandchildren.”
She said she saw Paivi Spoon talking to detectives Sunday morning after ambulances had left. Later, the house was quiet and seemingly empty, with traces of black fingerprint dust on the white front door.
Sonya Spoon’s former home in Chesapeake Beach is a small clapboard house with a yard cluttered with boxes and an old mattress just a few yards from the Chesapeake Bay. Neighbors said she and her children were a frequent presence on the street, even after they moved out of the house last spring.
According to two close neighbors, the Spoons were remodeling the house as a rental property. Sonya, as well as her parents, returned frequently to oversee the work, the neighbors said. The two neighbors spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
“The grandparents were very nice people. [Paivi Spoon] was very loving with the kids. She would take them walking up and down the boardwalk,” one neighbor said.
These neighbors thought that the elder Spoons had bought the property for their daughter but that she eventually chose not to live there. The family owns at least one other house in the neighborhood, the neighbors said, which they also used as a rental property.
Gary Spoon had recently told these neighbors that Sonya was living with them at their home in Cheverly.
Paivi Spoon’s career has included stints in the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office, a Nordic governments council and the U.S. Air Force Reserve, according to her online biography. Locally, according to the town of Cheverly Planning Board Web site, she has served as a special assistant in the county executive’s office, has worked at the former county Department of Environmental Resources and has been a board member of the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority and “is a long-term member of the Cheverly Planning Board.”
Laila Riazi, a Cheverly Town Council member, said members weren’t commenting. “We just want to support the family and see what the family needs.”
Neighbors passing the Spoon house in Cheverly, where chimes from nearby churches sounded up and down the quiet, tree-lined street Sunday morning, expressed shock that a homicide could occur in the area.
Angela Pryor, 51, who lives just down the block from the Spoons, said the block is considered particularly quiet because it is adjacent to the small Cheverly town offices.
“You feel so safe living right across from the police,” she said. “This seems very strange for this neighborhood.”
Michelle Boorstein, Martin Weil and Julie Zauzmer contributed to this report.