Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Maryland's Mother-Daughter Killings

Additional Information

Top: Karen (left) and Karissa Lofton; Bottom: Delores (left) and Ebony Dewitt
Top: Karen (left) and Karissa Lofton
Bottom: Delores (left) and Ebony Dewitt

On Thursday, March 19, 2009, Major Andy Ellis told reporters that Delores and Ebony's purses were missing. One was a multicolored Fossil purse, and the other was a black patent leather purse with a large Cadillac emblem. Ellis said that he could not release details about the contents of the purses or whether any of the victims' credit cards had been used or bank accounts accessed. Ellis also said that the earlier break-in at the Dewitt home, in which their television and a video game system had been stolen, did not appear to be connected with their homicides.

Without divulging how the Dewitts had been killed, Ellis said that there was a distinct difference in the manner of death between the Dewitt and Lofton homicide cases. In the Lofton case, the victims had been shot, but the Dewitts had been killed in a different manner, the details of which police were keeping close to the vest.

Although the possibility that a serial killer was behind the killings in the mother and daughter slayings was initially downplayed, Lt. William Rayle, commander of Prince George's County's homicide department's criminal investigative division, told a group of residents during a neighborhood meeting that the police were following at least 30 leads in the Dewitt case and had not ruled out the possibility that a serial killer was at work in the county. In addition to urging community residents to continue using caution in their daily affairs, such as making sure that their doors and windows were kept locked and that they always kept tabs on their home and car keys, Rayle also urged anyone with information that might help them solve the difficult case to come forward.

"The smallest, minute details sometimes bring these cases to conclusion," Rayle said. "Somebody in the community saw something: someone walking down the street, a dog barking. Anything would greatly assist... we're still following up everything we have. Somebody somewhere knows something. That person needs to call us."

Following the Dewitt slayings, the Prince George's County Police Department committed its entire homicide squad, as well as many other senior investigators from other squads, to solve the mysterious case. Officers went door-to-door in the neighborhoods where the killings had occurred, and asked for numerous DNA samples from many of the people with whom they spoke. Additionally, detectives collected approximately 200 pieces of evidence, and asked the FBI to put together a profile of their suspect or suspects.

"My heart is aching," said a person who attended a memorial service for Delores and Ebony. "I am hurting because I lost a friend."

"Delores was a beautiful person, had a beautiful spirit and was just a wonderful person all around," another friend said. "And so was Ebony."


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