No clues in Memphis killingsHed news offlead1 inch 1 inch

Zella Cathey weeps and prays with members of the Binghampton community on Tuesday during a prayer service at First Baptist Church for six people found dead in a small brick home.

Associated Press

Zella Cathey weeps and prays with members of the Binghampton community on Tuesday during a prayer service at First Baptist Church for six people found dead in a small brick home.

MEMPHIS — A day into one of the city's biggest murder investigations in decades — two men, two women and two boys shot and stabbed — police conceded Tuesday they had virtually nothing to go on.

Investigators said they believed the attacker or attackers were not among the dead, ruling out a murder-suicide.

But detectives faced a broad window for the killings: some time between Saturday night and Monday evening, when the six bodies and three wounded children were found in a small brick home on a dead-end street in a poor neighborhood east of downtown.

Officers went door to door looking for tips that could lead to a suspect or a motive.

"We're working with a blank sheet of paper," police spokeswoman Monique Martin said.

None of the victims had been identified. Most had been shot, and at least one child had been stabbed, authorities said. The children ranged in age from about 1 to 12 years old, police said.

The surviving children were hospitalized, two in very critical condition and the other in serious, according to police. Their families asked that no details of their conditions be released.

Meanwhile, authorities hoped for leads from the rough-edged community called Binghampton, where low-income houses and apartments sit near cheap motels and junkyards.

"We know there are people out there who have heard things, seen things, known things" that might help "put together pieces of the puzzle on what occurred in that home," said Lt. Joe Scott, a homicide detective.

It was not immediately clear how the killings could have gone unnoticed — police said five of the six victims were shot — though the neighborhood does experience some drug- and gang-related violence.

The weekend attack appeared to be the worst single shooting in Memphis in at least 33 years. In May 1973, a man with a history of mental illness randomly shot and killed five people, including a police officer, before he was killed by police.

More recently, a firefighter killed four people in 2000, including two other firefighters and a sheriff's deputy.

Even in a city accustomed to violence — last fall, the FBI ranked Memphis eighth in the country for reports of serious crimes per capita, though local law enforcement questioned the FBI's methodology — the killings stunned the neighborhood. About 30 residents gathered for a prayer service Tuesday morning at the First Baptist Church, where Pastor Keith Norman said the grandfather of one of the victims was a member.

"I feel a sense of vulnerability," church member Cheri Wells said. "I feel pain and hurt. I feel we have been robbed. Our peace has been snatched from us."

Wayne Bolden, who lives across the street, said the family kept to themselves.

Rob Robinson, who owns the home, said the man who rented it lived there with his girlfriend and at least three children. Robinson estimated the man and woman to be in their late 20s.

"I would categorize them as good tenants. … They were always very courteous and polite," he said.

No clues in Memphis killingsHed news offlead1 inch 1 inch 03/05/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:27am]

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...