- The Washington Times - Friday, May 28, 2004

Two male cousins have been arrested and charged with the murder Thursday afternoon of three children in an apartment in northwest Baltimore.

Adan Espinoza Canela, 17, and Policarpio Espinoza, 22, were charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of possession of a deadly weapon, Joe Sviatko, a spokesman for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, said yesterday.

“This was an act of someone who obviously has no conscience — a despicable act in an area where it’s very uncustomary for these types of incidents to occur,” Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Kenneth Blackwell said at a televised press conference yesterday.

He did not speculate on the motives for the killings in which one child was decapitated and two others were partially beheaded.

The children were identified as Ricardo Espinoza and his sister, Lucero Quezada, both 9, and their 10-year-old male cousin, Alexis Quezada.

Detective James Moses, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, said the suspects are believed to be uncles of the children, but a “communications barrier” has slowed investigators in determining the exact relationship. The exact spelling of the victims’ and the suspects’ last names is also in question.

Commissioner Blackwell said the children returned from school at about 3:30 p.m. and were discovered by the mother of at least one of the children when she returned home just after 5 p.m.

The woman, who speaks little English, asked a neighbor to call 911.

Commissioner Blackwell said the first arriving officer “couldn’t handle it” and had to give the call to another officer. “Walking in on a scene, seeing children of that tender age in that condition, certainly breaks your heart,” he said.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, who visited the scene Thursday night, said it was “a brutal, tragic, unfathomably sad murder.”

Police said they found a 12-inch butcher’s knife, believed to be the murder weapon, near the apartment.

The mother gave police the name of a man they classified as a “person of interest.” The man was taken into custody, questioned and released last night.

Police said more arrests are possible.

The art deco apartment complex is in the Fallstaff neighborhood in the northwest corner of the city, not far from Pimlico Race Course. The apartment houses are surrounded by well-tended homes and green lawns dotted with cicadas. The neighborhood is largely comprised of Orthodox Jewish residents, with others of black and Hispanic ethnicity.

The government of Mexico said yesterday it was helping the children’s family, offering legal and financial aid to the stricken parents.

It said the parents of the children — Ricardo Espinoza, Mimi Quezada and Maria Andrea Espejo — were illegal Mexican immigrants whose children had been born in Mexico. It was not known which children were born where or who the parents of each child were.

A relative said the family moved from New York to Baltimore about three years ago.

A neighbor, Robert Henry, described the victims as “polite, nice, easygoing kids.” He said that what happened was “beyond description.”

This article includes material from wire services.

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