A judge cleared the courtroom Monday evening after an outburst from the family of the three victims of a triple homicide.
Joseph Randolf Mays, 44, was arrested and charged with three counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Erika Harper Peters, 37, and her two sons, 11-year-old Eric Harper and 10-year-old Dakota Peters.
At Mays' court appearance Monday, Peters' family members began yelling at the suspect immediately after the charges were read.
Mays, Peters and her sons were found wounded and in pain when fire and emergency officials broke down their door shortly after 1 p.m., Saturday.
Fearful of violence in their apartment in the 2000 block of Maryland Avenue NE, the boys used the code phrase "the sky is blue" to alert their grandmother that something was wrong, sources said. Just hours after using that phrase over the weekend, police responded to a call at the apartment.
Peters and one of her sons were pronounced dead at the scene. Her other son was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Police have not released information on which son was taken to the hospital as both sons were considered juveniles.
Mays was also taken to an area hospital, with non-life-threatening injuries. He was treated and released into police custody.
A large hunting knife and a handwritten note were found with the defendant at the scene, according to court documents. In part, the note read," I'm sorry. I tried to make it work."
The couple's two-year-old daughter, Ashley, who was in the Carver Terrace apartment at the time of the murders, was unharmed. Mays was not the boys' father.
In court Monday, Peter's father yelled, "He didn't kill his daughter!"
Mays was ordered held without bond.
D.C. Child and Family Services received an abuse tip about the family in 2006, according to the D.C. Attorney General's Office, and that case was closed a year later "after appropriate steps were taken."
This case remains under investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call police at (202) 727-9099 or 1-888-919-CRIM[E] (2746).