A 29-year-old mother and her three daughters _ the youngest 6 months old _ were shot to death Tuesday in their home in a quiet New Orleans suburb.
The bodies of Nadia Braxton and her children, Kayla Peters, 12; Nayax Peters, 1 1/2, and Nyla Peters, 6 months, were on one bed. The children's were lengthwise, Braxton's across theirs, and a gun was at the foot of the bed, Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway said. Unless an autopsy changes the evidence, it looks as though the case is a murder-suicide, said police spokesman Lt. Wayne McInnis.
Caraway said police were questioning the father, who called authorities about 5 p.m. to report he went upstairs and found the bodies after nobody greeted him when he got home from work or answered when he called out. No one has been charged.
Caraway said the father's last name is Peters; he did not know the first. An online phone directory lists Ronald J. Peters at that address.
Seven family members huddled, crying, in the street as the bodies were brought out.
"They were loved. They were so loved," said one, who would identify herself only as an aunt. She was weeping so hard she could hardly talk.
Police said they had no record of any calls or disturbances at the neatly kept two-story brick and white weatherboard house with red shutters.
Neighbors said they only learned something was wrong when police cars pulled up Tuesday. They didn't know the family, but said they were always polite.
"They kept to themselves. We never heard from them, let alone had any trouble with them. They're the kind of people you'd be glad to have for a neighbor," said George Windstein, who has lived for 40 years one house away from the Peters'. The house between them was vacant even before Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005, he said. Windstein said he had never seen or heard about the oldest girl.
The family moved in sometime before the hurricane, said Maureen Callero, who lives across the street in a generally well-kept middle-class neighborhood of one- and two-story houses.
"They were quiet. You never even really saw her," said Debbie Thiele. "You'd see him outside washing his car, that kind of thing. But not to really get to know them." The couple did have guests over sometimes, she said.
Callero said she never saw the couple fighting. Peters worked in construction and had a second job, she said.
"He worked from early morning. He worked hard," she said.