Decomposed Bodies Of Girls Found In Home Believed To Be Her Daughters
WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2008
District of Columbia medical examiner's office personnel remove the first body from a house where the bodies
of four dead youths, estimated to be between 5 and 18 years of age, were found in varying states of decomposition in southeast
Washington, Wednesday Jan. 9, 2008. A woman found in her home with the bodies of four girls believed to be her children has
been charged with murder, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Banita Jacks, 33, was expected to appear later Thursday in District of Columbia
Superior Court, where the charges will be formally presented, prosecutors said. She faces four counts of murder and could
receive a maximum of life in prison, authorities said.
District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty said he was told by
the medical examiner that the girls had been dead at least two weeks. The bodies were so badly decomposed they could not be
positively identified, he said. "It is going to take scientific tests run by the chief medical examiner's office," Fenty said,
according to CBS News affiliate WUSA-TV.
"I don't think anyone in the city can remember a case involving this
many young people who have died in such a tragic way," Fenty said.
Police Chief Cathy Lanier said authorities were
operating on the assumption that the girls - ages 5, 6, 11 and 17 - were Jacks' children.
The bodies were found Wednesday
morning by U.S. Marshals, who arrived at the home in southeast Washington to serve an eviction notice. They found the badly
decomposing bodies on the second floor of a small, two-story brick building after a routine search.
told WUSA-TV in Washington that the girls, believed to be sisters, may have been dead a couple of months.
believe the bodies have been there beyond 15 days," D.C. medical examiner Dr. Marie Pierre-Louis said.
Good, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Child and Family Services agency, said Wednesday that the agency had received one report
about a family at that address in April through the city's child abuse and neglect reporting hot line.
"We made several
attempts to make contact with these people. We were unable to have any face-to-face contact with them," Good said. "On the
last attempt (in early May), it appeared they were no longer living at the address."
Good said investigators
later found a new address for the family in Maryland and alerted county authorities there of the report on the family. She
would not say where the family was believed to be living.
"This is a sick-making situation. It's a horrible thing,"
D.C. Council member Marion Barry, who represents the neighborhood where the bodies were found, questioned
why no one had reported that four people were missing.
"Somebody should have known that some people were not in school,"
D.C. schools spokeswoman Mafara Hobson said none of the children thought to be living in the home was
enrolled in the school system. One child at that address had attended Stuart-Hobson Elementary School but withdrew in 2006
as a fifth-grader, she said.
Larry Jones, who lives next door, said a woman and two or three children lived at the
home but he had not seen them since the summer. He said the children appeared healthy at the time.
Jones added that
in recent months he has noticed a "strange odor" coming through his vent. "We thought it was probably dead mice in the vent
or something," he said.
The home where the bodies were found is in one of the city's poorest areas on a block of virtually
identical apartment houses near Bolling Air Force Base.
Area resident Rowand Simpkins said her neighbors tend to keep
to themselves and that she never saw the woman or children.
"It's really a mystery," she said of the deaths. "It's
a sad situation."
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