MILTON, Mass. — A man fatally stabbed his 17-year-old sister, decapitated his 5-year-old sister in front of a police officer and then turned toward his 9-year-old sister with a knife in his hand before officers shot him dead in what their chief described as "a killing field."
There was no clear motive for the events that unfolded Saturday, the day after the 5-year-old's birthday, in a tony Boston suburb that also is home to Gov. Deval Patrick. But there was no doubt about the carnage wrought by 23-year-old Kerby Revelus against his sisters in the two-family home they shared with their parents and grandmother.
Five-year-old Bianca was killed as a cake for her birthday, which investigators believe was Friday, sat on the kitchen table. Nine-year-old Sarafina dialed 911 and watched police shoot her brother as her elder sister, 17-year-old Samantha, lay dead on the floor.
Sarafina was hospitalized Sunday with defensive wounds to her hands and stab wounds in her abdomen and one of her legs, police said.
"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. said. "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."
Saturday's attack came about 24 hours after Revelus had gotten into a fistfight 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 senior at Milton High School, and fatally stabbed her with a household knife while their grandmother, who neighbors say lives on the first floor, was doing laundry in the basement. The children's parents were away; their mother, identified by friends as Regine Revelus, is a nurse at a Boston hospital, Wells said.
Sarafina, a student at the Tucker Elementary School, just behind the house, called 911 around 5 p.m. An officer on patrol in the neighborhood arrived within a minute, Wells said, and could hear an altercation inside as he reached the second floor. The 911 operator tried to persuade Sarafina to open the door, but when she didn't the officer broke through.
"As the officer entered the door, (Revelus) decapitated (Bianca) in front of him," Wells said. "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. Revelus fell, still clutching the knife.
Details about the number of shots and who killed Revelus were pending the outcome of an autopsy Sunday.