Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Maryland's Mother-Daughter Killings


Despite the similarities between the Lofton and Dewitt homicide cases, an FBI profiler told the Prince George's County detectives that the slayings they were investigating were not the work of a serial killer. The profiler went a step further by concluding that the two double slayings were not connected at all, according to reports that appeared in The Washington Post. According to Detective Bernard Nelson, lead investigator in the Lofton case, the profiler said that the similarities between the cases were "just weird coincidences." Although detectives would not say much and everyone agreed that nothing would be entirely ruled out, there were fundamental differences between the killings in the modus operandi of the killer in each case.

"We've got the pieces to the puzzle," Detective Anthony Schartner, lead investigator in the Dewitt case, said. "Now we just need somebody to tell us where the pieces go, to tell us why it makes sense."

Nelson and Schartner worked closely on their respective cases, and shared notes about everything they uncovered despite the fact that developments had taken them in markedly different directions in their pursuit of a suspect. In the Lofton case, for instance, the victims had been shot, and the killer seemed to be considerably more organized than the killer in the Dewitt case. Although police, at the time, had continued to keep the details of the Dewitt case from the public, AOL News later reported that Delores Dewitt and Ebony had been asphyxiated before their bodies were torched in the car fire, and in that case the killer had seemed much more disorganized or all over the place in his actions. Schartner eventually revealed to The Washington Post that the Dewitts were dead prior to their bodies being placed in the stolen Nissan and set ablaze in plain view of the neighborhood. Schartner also revealed that investigators believed that the suspect or suspects had fled the scene by escaping into a nearby backyard and running into the woods, a theory supported by a canine unit's discovery of a scent trail along that route.

"They were lucky that they weren't caught," Schartner said in July 2009. "There was a lot of unnecessary risks that were taken."

Despite their theories and the progress made on the Dewitt case, many questions remained, including where Delores and Ebony had been killed and where they had been placed into the stolen vehicle.

"There's so much action in that case," Schartner said. "Somebody has to know something. There's too much activity."

Nonetheless, despite the best efforts of all the investigators, there was little that pointed them toward a suspect. They needed a break badly, and were about to get it: their suspect was literally right under their noses.


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