Police in Charlotte, North Carolina say a 10-year-old kept the murders of her mother and siblings a secret for two weeks because she feared that her father might kill her and her 2-year-old brother.
Police didn’t find out about the murders until Monday night, when a relative called 911 and asked police to check on the Chapman family.
Police say 33-year-old Kenneth Chapman shot himself in the head after firing gunshots at officers when they arrived at his apartment.
Once officers went inside, they found the bodies of Chapman’s 1-year-old daughter and 13-year-old stepdaughter inside a bedroom.
Police found the children’s mother, 34-year-old Nateesha Chapman, at another apartment nearby.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the Mecklenburg County medical examiner said that Nateesha Chapman and the 1-year-old had been suffocated.
Kenneth Chapman’s 13-year-old stepdaughter was stabbed to death.
Chapman spared the lives of two children, a 10-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy.
“At one point, he held a gun to her head, to the 10-year-old’s head, and she said, ‘Don’t kill me.’ And he told her, ‘I’m not going to kill you because you’re my firstborn daughter.’ And the son, the 2-year-old, is his firstborn son,” said Capt. Paul Zinkann with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Kenneth and Nateesha Chapman moved to Charlotte nine months ago from West Virginia.
They were in between apartments when a neighbor said that he heard a loud argument at the Via Romano Drive location two weeks ago.
That’s when police think that Kenneth Chapman killed his wife and shortly thereafter killed his stepdaughter and 1-year-old daughter.
“It’s difficult for everyone. We all have children,” Zinkann said.
The wife was left at the old apartment.
The children were sealed up in the bedroom of their Providence Square Drive apartment.
When they were killed, their 10-year-old sister heard gunshots and suspected the worst, but kept it to herself to protect her 2-year-old brother.
“Her bravery and composure was truly remarkable,” Zinkann said. “She and her little brother are with family members and are being cared for now.”
Police believe the family members were killed around March 15.
On March 19, Chapman posted what appeared to be a suicide reference on his Facebook page.
A friend called 911 to get police to check on him.
Police stopped by the Via Romano Drive apartment to perform a welfare check.
“They checked the residence. No one appeared to be inside,” Zinkann said. “It looked like a semi-vacant apartment to the officers that responded on that afternoon.”
Police say Chapman did not have a criminal record.
Court records show an eviction notice was served on the apartment where Nateesha Chapman’s body was found, but shed little light on whether they were having financial trouble.
Investigators are still trying to figure out not only why Kenneth Chapman killed his family, but why he tried to hide it for weeks and acted like nothing happened.
“What this man did was despicable and cowardly,” Zinkann said.