Sheila Olds Harris says she was awakened early Wednesday by a child screaming outside the door of her apartment off Morreene Road.
When Harris opened the door , she saw a teenager who lived downstairs holding his 4-year-old brother in his arms.
“He was holding him like he was waiting on him to die. The baby’s throat was cut,” Harris said. “Blood was everywhere, and (the teenager) was saying, ‘I just got home at 5 o’clock. I just got home at 5 o’clock.’ ”
Police charged the teen, 17-year-old Treyvon Evans, with trying to kill his 4-year-old brother Chase and with the stabbing death of his grandmother, Carolyn Robinson Hemingway. Treyvon, Chase and a sister lived with Hemingway, 62, in an apartment at 3421 Glasson Street, off Morreene Road near the Duke University Medical Center.
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The stabbings occurred during an argument, police say. Hemingway was pronounced dead at the apartment. Chase Evans, who will celebrate his fifth birthday next week, was taken to the medical center with “serious injuries,” police said.
Officers were called to the apartment shortly before 5 a.m. because someone was reportedly in “cardiac arrest,” police said.
Durham police detectives and forensic officers were at the first-floor apartment most of the day Wednesday collecting evidence in brown paper bags. Neighbors who knew Hemingway described her as a “sweet lady” who allowed her grandsons and a granddaughter who is not quite a year old to live with her, even though Hemingway had a debilitating medical condition.
Daryl Hamilton Sr., who lives across the street from Hemingway at the sprawling Morreene Road public housing complex, said Hemingway’s grandchildren, particularly the oldest grandsons, made her life difficult. Hamilton and other neighbors close to the family said Treyvon Evans and an older brother beat her and stole the narcotic-based Percocet and Oxycodone prescription medicines she took for pain.
Hamilton said the boys either sold the medicine or took it themselves to get high.
“They are the sorriest bunch of kids you ever seen in your life,” he said. “It won’t the first time they jumped on her. It was just the first time they killed her.”
Ellen Motery, who lives several buildings away in the complex, said Hemingway, whom everyone called “Miss Carolyn,” had an argument with her grandson the day before she was killed. Hemingway had allowed Treyvon Evans’ 20-year-old girlfriend to live at the home because the woman’s mother had recently died and she had nowhere else to go, Motery said. Hemingway told Motery that she no longer wanted the woman in her home.
“She caught them having sex and made her get out,” Motery said.
In addition to her grandchildren, Hemingway allowed the children’s mother, Tonaka Hemingway, to live at the apartment. Neighbors said Tonaka Hemingway was not home when the attacks occurred because she is hospitalized.
Harris said in spite of the chaotic home life created by the grandchildren, Hemingway was trying to “save” the grandson charged with killing her by attempting to keep him out of trouble.
Just after 2 p.m. Wednesday, a black hearse pulled alongside the curb in front of Hemingway’s apartment to transport her body to the state medical examiner’s office.
When the officers brought her outside atop a gurney covered with a black tarp, a cluster of people in front of her building began sobbing.
“Ain’t nothing we can do,” said Motery, who hugged them close. “Ain’t nothing we can do.”
An older man in the building where Hamilton lives sat in a chair on the second floor. He moaned and wrapped his arms around his stomach.
“Jesus,” he shouted. “Lord Jesus!”
Hamilton grew angry watching the officers load Hemingway’s body into the back of the hearse.
“Anybody who stays here needs to own a gun,” he said. “I’m getting away from here.”