A violent domestic assault left a D.C. mother and her two sons stabbed to death at the hands of her live-in boyfriend.
For years, family members of 37-year-old Erika Peters were very worried about her explosive relationship with 44-year-old Joseph Randolph Mays, and both feared and expected the worse.
“We knew about him beating the kids, but she wouldn’t leave,” Peters’s sister, Kimberly Trimble, told The Washington Post. “I don’t know if she’s scared of him or what the case may be.”
Trimble also talks about seeing bruises on her sister and nephews, but, when asked, they would not reveal how they got them.
Last Saturday, things came to a horrific and tragic end.
D.C. Police officials were mum on details of the homicide (citing an ongoing investigation), but Trimble tells the paper that Peters’ oldest son, 11-year-old Erik, called his grandmother Saturday and told her “The sky is blue.” Family had told the boy to use those code words whenever anything was wrong.
Not too long after the call, police arrived at their D.C. apartment and found Erik, his younger brother Dakota, 10, and Peters with fatal stab wounds. Peters and Dakota died at the scene and Erik passed away shortly thereafter. A 2-year-old girl, the only one of Peters’ children fathered by Mays, was left unharmed.
According to Trimble, police told her that it all started when Peters and Mays began fighting and Dakota ran to hide in the bathroom. Mays then went after the child, breaking down the bathroom door and attacking him. Erik attempted to get out of the home through the front door, but wasn’t able to undo the safety bar.
When police arrived, Mays was in the home as well, and had minor stab wounds to his chest, police sources told the paper. Trimble says officers told her his wounds were self-inflicted. He was charged with the murders Sunday.
The tragedy follows attempts by Trimble to alert the authorities about problems in the home, including a call to the city’s child and family services agency two years ago, she told the Post.
In that situation, Trimble reported Mays for shaking his daughter. A spokeswoman for the city’s Attorney General said the complaint was received in 2006 and that the department took “appropriate steps” in the matter, reports the paper. That case was closed in 2007.
Peters, who was hearing impaired, was very active in deaf ministry at D.C.’s Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church.
She was also a dancer and displayed her talents during one of January’s inaugural activities, her father said.