- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Four children and their father were found dead yesterday in a Frederick town house after a schools employee came to see why the children had been missing from classes.

Police said the father, who was not identified, was 28. The children whose bodies were found in the home were his daughters ages 9, 4 and 1 and his 3-year-old son.

The children were covered with sheets and blankets and found in several rooms in the two-story, three-bedroom town house. Police would not say how the children were killed or how long they had been dead.

The father was found hanging by a yellow nylon rope from a second-floor banister.

Police said they arrived at the house, in the 1200 block of Danielle Drive, at about 3 p.m.

“A school liaison worker came here to check on the children because the children had not been to school in days,” said Frederick police Lt. Thomas Chase.

When no one answered the door, the woman called police. Officers entered the home through a window and discovered the bodies.

Lt. Chase said the children’s mother, who also lived at the town house where the family was found, had been working at a local restaurant. He said she hadn’t been to her job in more than a week and that police were searching for her last night.

Officers cordoned off a large area of the parking lot in front of the town house, drawing hundreds of residents to watch as investigators descended on the scene.

Authorities erected a large tent near the front door of the house to obscure the view as they carried the bodies to a vehicle outside. Autopsies were scheduled for today in Baltimore.

Lt. Chase said the case was unusual for Frederick, a city about 50 miles north of the District that recorded four killings last year and none in 2004.

“I think this type of crime is uncommon for any area,” he said.

Police say the family had emigrated from El Salvador, and neighbors said the area was home to several Hispanic families.

A man who rented a room at the home briefly about 18 months ago, Jose Lopez, said the parents were Pedro Rodriguez and Deysi Benitez.

Maryland property records show Mr. Rodriguez and Mrs. Benitez bought the house in August 2005. Police declined to confirm the residents’ names.

Adrian Dorsey, 27, lives a few doors down from the house where the family lived. She said the children often played unsupervised in the community.

“I saw the kids running around the neighborhood a lot with no adult outside,” she said. “I never really saw the parents.”

Rebecca Reckley said the father worked at the Toys R Us warehouse in Frederick and the mother worked at Outback Steakhouse. The mother worked nights and the father worked days, she said, adding that her grandchildren played with couple’s children.

The father “just seemed awful nice,” she said.

“He just seemed like an awfully nice man,” Miss Reckley said. “He just seemed to really care about his children, so you can’t fathom something like this would happen.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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