10-year-old survivor ‘truly remarkable’
(Update posted Monday a.m.) Charlotte-Mecklenburg police believe Kenneth Chapman committed his first murder about two weeks ago. He suffocated his wife to death. Then, not too long afterward, he killed a daughter and stepdaughter. The killing came to an end late Monday or early Tuesday morning when he shot himself in the head after police arrived at the family's southeast Charlotte apartment. But there were survivors: A 10-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy. Fighting back tears, Police Captain Paul Zinkann had this to say about the girl: "Her bravery and composure is truly remarkable." WFAE's Greg Collard has more on what she endured in this report. Two weeks ago, the girl heard her parents argue one evening. The next day, she went to school. Her mother, Nateesha Chapman, wasn't there when she came home. Instead, Captain Paul Zinkann says she heard this: "That evening, 13-year-old was upstairs with the infant. She heard her older sister screaming and running. Several gunshots, and then the baby sister started screaming. Heard subsequent gunshots, and the screaming stopped." It's unclear if shots were actually fired; the medical examiner's office says Kenneth Chapman was the only person who suffered a gunshot wound. Stab wounds are official cause of death for 13-year-old Na'Jhae Parker; 13-month old Nakyiah Chapman was suffocated. The 10-year-old girl knew she would never see her sisters again, and she knew her mother was likely dead as well. "The father put both bodies in a bedroom, locked and secured that door, where they layed last several weeks. The 10-year-old went to school, tried normally as much as she could because she feared her little brother would be murdered," Zinkann says. Zinkann says the girl kept quiet. She told police that her father wouldn't say much either, except for an occasional question. "The only statements he would continue to make is to ask the 10-year-old if she smelled anything. 'Do you smell something? Do you smell a dead body?' She would say 'No, I don't smell anything.' Again, she knew enough to keep saying 'no' to anything because she did not want to convey to him that she knew her older and younger sisters were dead upstairs." The murders came to light late Monday night and early Tuesday morning after an uncle of the mother called 911 and asked police to check on the family. Zinkann says Kenneth Chapman called for his wife when police arrive at their apartment on Providence Square Drive. When she did not come, he went upstairs. He then sent his 10-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son outside. Meanwhile, Zinkann says officers took cover to the side of the front door. When Kenneth Chapman returned, he shot at them once through the front door before shooting himself in the head. Police then searched the apartment and found the bodies of Na'Jhae Parker and Nakyiah Chapman. Police found their mother, 34-year-old Nateesha Chapman, early Tuesday morning at another apartment the family had recently moving from. The medical examiner says suffocation was the cause of death. But, according to what the 10-year-old girl told police, Zinkann says Kenneth Chapman had reasons for sparing the lives of her and her little brother. "At one point he held a gun to her head, to the surviving 10-year-old's head. She said, 'Don't kill me.' And he told her, 'I'm not going to kill you.'" The reason: She was his first-born daughter, and the 2-year-old was his first-born son. Zinkann says they moved to Charlotte about 9 months ago from West Virginia. The family has relatives in the Charlotte area, including the uncle who called 911. The survivor girl and 2-year-old boy are now staying with family.