- Associated Press - Saturday, August 7, 2010

RIVERDALE, Md. (AP) — Two people were charged with murder in the slayings of two children, their mother and their aunt — all of whom were found in a trash-filled apartment above a detached garage at a suburban Maryland home, police said Saturday.

Prince George’s County police identified the victims as Shayla Shante Sikyala, 3; Shakur Sylvester Sikyala, 4; their mother, Dawn Yvette Brooks, 38; and their aunt, Mwasiti Sikyala, 41. All were from Lanham. Police said the victims were shot to death.

Meanwhile, police have charged Darrell Lynn Bellard, 43, and Tkeisha Nicole Gilmer, 18, with murder and placed them in the custody of county corrections officials. Both are from Texas.

Bellard and Gilmer apparently were connected to Brooks and Mwasiti Sikyala through the sale of marijuana, though police may learn more as the investigation continues, officer Evan Baxter said. A court appearance has not been set for Bellard and Gilmer, and neither had an attorney, Baxter said.

Police had said previously that some of the victims were natives of the Congo but Baxter was not able to confirm that information Saturday morning.

The victims had been living in the space above the garage, which had no running water or toilet facilities, according to police. Officers say the amount of trash in the living space is making it difficult for detectives to sift through evidence.

“I’m very disgusted about this,” Hylton said. Prince George’s County officials marked the property with a bright orange sign after declaring the garage and the home uninhabitable Friday.

Prince George’s County health department officials spent Friday afternoon inspecting the garage living area and the home to make sure it was safe for officers to investigate. Police officers and recruits combing through the property for evidence wore protective masks, boots, gloves and special suits.

Dr. Donald Shell, a county health officer, called the living conditions unsanitary and compared it to a junkyard.

“It’s not somewhere where we’d want to lay our heads to sleep,” Shell said. Health officials found mold in the living area and signs of rodents burrowing and nesting near the garage, he said.

The county health department had not received any specific complaints about the house, Shell said.

The county’s environmental services department had cited the home, however, in February 2009 for keeping a dismantled, inoperable car on their property, a fence in disrepair and open storage of debris and trash. The home cleared a follow-up inspection several weeks later.

Police have said it appeared the garage unit was being rented. A police spokesman said Saturday he couldn’t comment about who owned the property and whether officers were investigating them.

County records show the property was bought in 1993 by Mukala Sikyala and Silwano Sikya. The Associated Press could not locate a working phone number for the homeowners or their family members.


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