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Texas Police Charge Siblings in Death of 6-Year-Old Boy

April 16, 2002
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Texas Police Charge Siblings in Death of 6-Year-Old Boy

by Paul Duggan, Washington Post

AUSTIN - A 10-year-old boy and his 15-year-old sister were jailed in a Dallas suburb today after they admitted intentionally killing their 6-year-old brother and burying his body in a shallow, muddy grave near the family's house, authorities said.

The victim, Jackson Carr, was described as a bright and energetic first-grader. He had been the focus of an intensive, six-hour search by dozens of police officers, firefighters, neighbors and others in Lewisville, Tex. - about 20 miles northwest of Dallas - after the boy's parents reported him missing early Monday evening.

Authorities said the search ended about 12:30 a.m. today after Jackson's two siblings admitted to police that they had killed him. The sister led investigators to the body, buried two feet deep in woods about 100 yards behind the family's home in a middle-class subdivision. An autopsy today showed that Jackson bled to death after being stabbed in the neck and choked.

It was unclear tonight whether authorities had determined a motive for the slaying. The two siblings, who were not publicly identified by police because of their ages, were charged as juveniles with murder and were being held in a youth detention center.

"I've been in law enforcement for 27 years and I can't remember seeing anything like this," said Sgt. Robert Douglass, a police spokesman in Lewisville, a city of 77,000.

The tragedy began unfolding Monday on quiet Barfknecht Lane. Michael and Rita Carr and their three children moved into a brick, ranch-style home on a half-acre lot here last September.

A neighbor, Janet Ellison, 38, said in an interview today that she saw Jackson riding a bicycle alone on the street in front of his home at 4:30 p.m. But about a half-hour later, when Rita Carr arrived home from work, she could not find him, Ellison said.

Douglass said Carr's 10-year-old son told her that he and Jackson had been playing hide-and-seek, and that Jackson had run off to hide. Police began looking for the boy after the Carrs reported him missing at 6:44 p.m., Douglass said.

Dozens of volunteers hunted for Jackson in yards and on nearby streets. A helicopter buzzed overhead, sweeping the ground with a spotlight. Police, firefighters and rescue workers tramped through woods with search dogs and thermal-imaging devices.

Meanwhile, in the Carrs' home, Douglass said, investigators found an undisclosed piece of evidence that "led them to believe that the 15-year-old sister knew where the brother was." After about an hour of questioning, Douglass said, the girl led police to the body.

"The 15-year-old admitted that she killed her brother and placed him [in the grave]," Douglass said. "The 10-year-old admitted that he held his brother down while the 15-year-old killed him and that he assisted in burying him." Police declined to say whether they found a weapon.

The Denton County district attorney's office would not discuss how it will handle the case.

If the two siblings are prosecuted and convicted as juveniles, they could be confined only until their 21st birthdays. Under Texas law, however, the girl could be prosecuted as an adult, because she is older than 13, and sentenced to life in prison if found guilty of murder. The boy could be prosecuted under a separate law that deals with children his age who commit violent crimes. It allows for confinement for up to 40 years, first in a youth detention center, then in prison.

The 15-year-old girl, a seventh-grader, is two or three years older than most of her classmates. Ellison said the girl once told her that she had a history of discipline problems in school.

Nizam Peerwani, the chief medical examiner in neighboring Tarrant County, where today's autopsy was performed, said Jackson suffered a puncture-like stab wound on the front-left side of his neck that pierced his jugular vein, causing him to bleed to death.

"It just blows me away," said Mike Houser, 32, a neighbor who helped look for the boy. He said the 15-year-old girl initially joined in the search.

"She was talking to me and my mom," Houser recalled. "She said something like, 'If we don't find him, I think I'm just going to scream.' She was talking like she had no idea."

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