- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 3, 2002

NORFOLK (AP) A woman whose body was found in the Elizabeth River is suspected of killing her three young sons before drowning herself, police said yesterday.
The bodies of Jebediah Barkley, 4; Abijah Barkley, 3; and Shereef Barkley, 7 months, were found about 12:30 a.m. yesterday in the family's apartment on Sheryl Drive in Norfolk's Mount Pleasant section. All three were drowned sometime Sunday evening, according to a preliminary examination by the state medical examiner's office.
Their mother, Sonita L. Barkley, also drowned, probably Monday morning, according to the examiner's office.
Police said they were treating the case as a murder-suicide.
Norfolk Police Department spokesman Chris Amos said police received reports about 5:45 a.m. Monday that a vehicle was parked on a bridge and a woman was standing next to it, looking as if she might be preparing to jump into the river. When officers arrived, they found the vehicle but the woman was missing.
The vehicle's registration was traced to an apartment on Little Creek Road, but police who checked that address found the vehicle's owner had moved.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Mrs. Barkley's body was found in the Elizabeth River near Harbor Park. Homicide investigators took over the case and traced the abandoned vehicle to an address on Sheryl Drive. Getting no answer when they knocked on the door of the apartment about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, they went to check another address they had obtained. They returned to the apartment four hours later and got the manager to let them in and discovered the three children's bodies.
Mrs. Barkley's husband, whose name was not released, arrived at the apartment about an hour later.
Neighbors in the Sewells Garden Apartments a well-maintained, tree-shaded complex of white-painted brick buildings said the Barkleys had moved into the apartment within the past three months. They said the family had been quiet.
James Wideman, a neighbor, said he thought the boys' father was in the military, like many of the other residents of the complex.

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