Two persons have been charged in the alleged murder of four people in Riverdale, near Washington, D.C., on Aug. 6. Tkeisha Nicole Gilmer, 18, and Darrell Lynn Bellard, 43, both of Dickinson, Texas, were each charged with four counts of first degree murder in the slayings.

Police say 3-year-old Shayla Shante Sikyala and 4-year-old Shakur Sylvester Sikyala, their mother, 38-year-old Dawn Yvette Brooks and their aunt, 41-year-old Mwasiti Sikyala were found dead in a trash-filled apartment that had no running water on the 6800 block of Third St.

According to court records, Brooks has been tied up in the Maryland courts for the past 10 years, including a 2003 incident in which her mother, Catherine Brooks Sheldon, attempted to gain custody of Brooks’ children.

Prince George’s County, Md. police say the amount of trash in the makeshift apartment above a home’s detached garage has hindered the investigation. Officers found the bodies early Friday after responding to a call from someone at the property who reported an assault. Police say all four victims died from gunshot wounds.

Police Chief Roberto Hylton said he believes Gilmer and Bellard may have known the victims, and the slayings appeared to be “personal,” not random. He also praised the work of police detectives in apprehending the two suspects.

“Due to the rapid response and attention to detail by patrol officers and detectives, the suspects were quickly apprehended,” he said in a statement. “I’m very proud of my department.”

Both of the accused have preliminary hearings set for Sept. 3.

Associated Press writer Nafeesa Syeed contributed to this story.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO