Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Maryland's Mother-Daughter Killings

Two Months Later

Not quite two months later on Monday, March 16, 2009, at approximately 4 a.m., a stolen Nissan Maxima was set ablaze in the driveway of a vacant house on the 11000 block of Webbwood Court in Largo, a house which had been for sale for some time. The car had been stolen from a home on Woodlawn Boulevard a short time earlier, only a few blocks away from where it was set on fire, and the police were actively searching for it when it was found.

Map with Prince George's County, Md. locator
Map with Prince George's County, Md. locator

Firefighters called to the scene extinguished the flames quickly, but by the time they had arrived the car had burned so badly that the driveway's asphalt beneath it had been scarred, literally melted by the intense heat. Much of the Nissan's interior had been reduced to ashes, and the adjacent garage was also damaged by the blaze. Once the blaze was extinguished, firefighters began to scour the car for clues, believing that an accelerant had been used to ignite it, possibly gasoline, but quickly made two macabre discoveries: a charred human body lay in the back seat and another, also badly burned, had been stuffed inside the trunk. Realizing they were dealing with more than a routine car fire, firefighters preserved the scene so that it could later be examined for evidence and notified the Prince George's County Police Department that they had a suspected homicide on their hands.

When homicide investigators arrived at the scene, the smell of gasoline fumes was still very strong. One look at the bodies told them that they had been burned beyond recognition — investigators could not even determine the gender of the bodies at that point. As a result, positive identification would have to be made by other means.

It was duly noted by investigators that their new homicide case was in almost the same neighborhood where Karen Lofton and her daughter, Karissa, had been killed. Many of the area's residents had become very concerned, even frightened, and wanted to know what was going on in their otherwise-peaceful community.

"A tragedy — it's a terrible tragedy," area resident Becky Ringeisen said. "It's scary to live in this neighborhood."

Because of the case's close proximity to the scene of the Lofton murders, Chief Roberto Hylton would eventually be faced with rethinking his earlier assessment that the Loftons had not been killed by a serial killer.

"This is a very, very strange case," Hylton said. "This is unusual for this community... this is so bizarre."

Hylton said that his department had not seen that level of violence for the past several years. In addition to what appeared to be four homicides in a two-month period, the community had also experienced a number of property crimes and burglaries in recent months. He assigned additional detectives to help work the case, and said that investigators would work around the clock until they obtained some results.

 

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