Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Maryland's Mother-Daughter Killings

The Stolen Car

Backing up to the time just prior to the discovery of the burning car, while Courtney Hicks waited and worried about what had become of her mother and sister, Sybil Felton, another Largo resident, living on the 10800 block of Woodlawn Boulevard, called 911. She made the call outside, from her driveway, at 3:39 a.m. on Sunday, to report that her 2005 Nissan Maxima had been stolen. Felton told the emergency dispatcher that she would be flying to Europe later in the day, and had left her home with her boyfriend at approximately 2 a.m. to run an errand. When she returned less than two hours later, she said, her Nissan was gone.

While Felton was speaking with the 911 operator, Felton suddenly let out a scream and hung up. The operator called back immediately to ask if Felton was okay, and Felton replied that she was. She had shrieked and hung up, she explained, because she had seen someone speeding past her house in her Nissan. She said that she could not determine how many people were inside the car, and was unable to provide police with a description of the driver.

Within minutes of Felton finishing her report to the 911 dispatcher, the call reporting the burning car in the driveway of the vacant home three blocks away came in, and the car was ultimately identified as Felton's. As investigators processed all of the information rapidly coming in, it was recalled that Felton's house had been burglarized on February 28, 2009, a Saturday, and that the key to her Nissan Maxima had been stolen during that burglary. Strangely, nothing else had been reported as missing as a result of the break-in, but investigators now believed that the person or persons who had stolen the key had returned to steal the vehicle, abduct Delores and Ebony, kill them and set the car on fire with their bodies inside.

It was a complex case, but the detectives, some of Prince George's County's finest, knew they had to unravel all the details to determine what had actually happened that night, and they were confident that they would eventually do so. Investigators were nonetheless baffled as to Delores and Ebony's location from the time Courtney returned home at 10 p.m. until 2 a.m., which is the earliest time that Felton told investigators her car could have been stolen. They knew that Delores and Ebony had not driven themselves away from their home in that time frame, since Courtney had found their own car parked in the driveway of their home. It seemed likely that they had already been abducted by that time, and if so it also seemed likely that the suspect or suspects had used another car until the time that Felton's car was stolen. It also puzzled police that the driver of Felton's stolen car was able to drive past Felton's house, park the car in the driveway of the vacant house, set the car ablaze using an accelerant, and escape from the crime scene on a dead-end street without being seen by anyone in less than ten minutes.

Within days the police began asking the public to help them make some sense out of the tangled web with which they were dealing, and offered a $25,000 reward as an incentive to get witnesses to come forward. A similar reward was also offered for information about the Lofton murders. Unfortunately there were no takers, and investigators decided that they would reinvestigate all of the burglaries that had occurred in the neighborhood recently in an attempt to ferret out additional clues that might put them on the trail of a suspect for the killings.

 

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