A man on a rampage fatally stabbed his 17-year-old sister and decapitated his five-year-old sister during her birthday party and was shot by officers as he headed toward his nine-year-old sister amid what has been called “a killing field”.
There is no clear motive yet for the events that unfolded about 5pm local on Saturday in the tony Boston suburb of Milton that is home to Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. But there is no doubt at the carnage wrought by 23-year-old Kerby Revelus against his three sisters in the two-family home they shared with their parents and grandmother.
Bianca was killed as a cake for her fifth birthday sat on the kitchen table. Sarafina, nine, dialled the emergency dispatcher and watched police shoot her brother as her elder sister, Samantha, lay dead on the floor.
Sarafina was hospitalised on Sunday at the Boston Medical Centre with defensive wounds to her hands and stab wounds in her abdomen and one of her legs.
“In policing, we see the raw human emotion every day, but to think that a human being could afflict such an atrocious, violent act on his own family is unbelievable,” Milton police chief Richard G Wells Jr told AP.
“When I walked up to the first officer (on the scene), I could see the whole story right in his face. This just told me that this was something very bad,” Wells said.
Revelus had recently served jail time on a gun charge, Wells said, but the details would not be released until courts opened on Monday. Police had been called to the same house in 2004 after a domestic violence report of Revelus allegedly punching one of the women living in the home, Wells said.
Saturday’s attack came about 24 hours after Revelus had gotten into a fist fight with a man living next door, Wells said.
“Blows were exchanged,” he said. “I don’t know the cause of it, but we’re confident that did happen. He had been agitated in the hours that followed that, going into the day and last night.”
Investigators believe Revelus targeted Samantha, a 17-year-old senior at Milton High School, and fatally stabbed her with a household knife while their grandmother was doing laundry in the basement. At the time, the children’s parents were away; their mother is a nurse at a Boston hospital, Wells said.
Her identity, and that of the father, were not immediately available.
Sarafina, a primary school student, called the police emergency dispatcher just before 5pm. An officer on patrol in the neighbourhood arrived within a minute, Wells said, and could hear an altercation inside as he reached the second floor. The emergency operator tried to persuade Sarafina to open the door, but when she did not, the officer broke through.
“As the officer entered the door, (Revelus) decapitated (Bianca) in front of him,” said Wells. “He actually walked into a killing field. He walked into such carnage, as far as the atrocity of it, I’ve never seen it.”
Within moments, four officers were inside and two of them shot Revelus as he tried to get to Sarafina, Wells said. He fell still clutching the knife.
Details about the number of shots and who killed Revelus were pending the outcome of an autopsy.
Jocelyn Ashley, 18, who attended Milton High with Samantha, told The Boston Globe Revelus was “a loner.”
Principal John Drottar said Samantha was a member of the poetry club and planned to attend college in autumn.
“She was a wonderful young lady, a great student, and just a sweetheart of a kid,” Drottar said.
A two-hour grief counselling session was held at the school on Sunday afternoon and will be offered on Monday to students and employees, he said.
The officers involved in the case were placed on administrative leave and were receiving counselling from the Boston Police Department stress unit, Wells said.