Three young girls found dead in a Maryland house on Friday were fatally stabbed by an older brother of one of the children, according to Prince George’s County police.
Police on Saturday morning identified the girls as Ariana Elizabeth DeCree, 9; Nadira Janae’ Withers, 6; and Ajayah Royale DeCree, 6.
Antonio Williams, 25, of Clinton, has been arrested on three counts of first-degree murder and other related charges in the slaying of the girls. Williams is the brother of Withers and a cousin of the other two girls.
The Decree sisters are from Palm Street in Newark, NJ. They are the daughters of the suspect’s mother’s cousin.
The mother of Nadira and Williams returned to her home in Clinton at around 7:30 a.m. Friday after working an overnight shift and leaving the girls in Williams’s care. She discovered the three girls suffering from stabs wounds in a basement bedroom.
“All three girls were found lying in a single bed suffering from puncture wounds and lacerations,” Prince George’s County police Capt. Anthony Schartner said at a Saturday press conference. He added later: “At this point, we don’t have a motive.”
After the mother called 911, officers arrived at the house in the 6400 block of Brooke Jane Drive and the children were pronounced dead around 7:46 a.m. A fourth child, a 2-year-old, was inside, alive and unharmed, police said.
Police said Williams remained at the scene after the slayings. He was transported to a police station, where authorities said he offered a complete confession to the stabbings during an interview with investigators. Williams turned 25 Saturday.
Police worked into the night Friday collecting evidence from the house, with police tape stretching across several blocks of the quiet neighborhood of single-family homes during the massive investigation.
Assistant Police Chief Hector Velez said Friday the entire community is mourning the “three beautiful young children.”
“We all feel this loss,” Velez said. “We want to assure the community that the Prince George’s County Police Department will work tirelessly to find the person or persons responsible for these children’s deaths.”
Homicide prosecutors were also on the scene Friday morning, pledging to “leave no stone unturned,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said.
“We woke up this morning, as hard as it is, to yet another nightmare,” Alsobrooks said. “We are absolutely heartbroken.”
Authorities launched a massive investigation, with police tape stretching across several blocks of the quiet neighborhood of single-family homes.
Counselors were also on hand for investigators and other first responders — many of whom have children of their own — working at the traumatic scene, said Jennifer Donelan, a spokeswoman for Prince George’s County police.
“This is one of the most difficult that our officers have arrived on,” Donelan said.
By late morning on Friday, residents in the neighborhood were learning about the deaths. Neighbor James Pinkney called it “earthshaking news.”
“This is horrific,” Pinkney said. Pinkney said he would stay home from work Friday, worried about leaving his 13-year-old daughter home alone as police searched for suspects.
“My heart is heavy,” said a choked up Pinkney. “How could you live with yourself committing such an evil act?”