(Slide show by Maryland Newsline’s Maite Fernandez; photos by Alexander Pyles and courtesy of Robert Jenkins)
Landover Woman's Murder Haunts Brother
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
LANDOVER, Md. - Robert Jenkins can’t understand why someone would kill his older sister. The 47-year-old former construction worker remembers Alitha Mae Jenkins as a fun, sweet woman who would look after him when he was growing up and cook delicious home-fried potatoes.
“I was in church Sunday thinking about my sister, and I started crying,” Jenkins said. “Because Mae was a sweet lady, a sweet gal.”
On Jan. 7, Prince George’s County Police found the body of Alitha Mae Jenkins, 51, of Landover, in a grassy area along a road in Capitol Heights.
According to the police report, there were no visible signs of trauma to her body, and investigators didn’t release the exact cause of death.
Police have classified her case as a homicide – one of 35 so far this year in the county.
Robert Jenkins, of Landover, said police told him his sister was strangled.
“The case is still open,” said Cpl. Mike Rodriguez, a Prince George's County police spokesman. He said police don’t have a suspect and urged anybody with information about the case to call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS.
Kent Taylor, 52, a cook and longtime family friend, said he wanted to send a message to the person who killed Jenkins: “How can you live with yourself?”
Taylor and the victim’s brother agree that whatever happened to Mae, as they call her, she would have put up a fight.
“She was a fighter,” Jenkins said.
Alitha Mae Jenkins was working as a hairdresser at the time of her murder, her brother and friend said. Taylor said she used to go to people’s houses to cut their hair and that she liked talking to people. “She would charge whatever you [could] pay,” he said.
Robert Jenkins acknowledged she had struggled with drugs in the past. At some point his sister started doing crack; she got in trouble with police a few times, he said.
According to Prince George's County Circuit Court documents, Alitha Mae Jenkins was found guilty of misdemeanor theft and a prostitution charge more than a decade ago.
In 1998 she was sentenced to 10 days in jail for prostitution, according to court records. That same year she was sentenced to 30 days in jail for “theft under $300.” The police report said she stole two lipsticks valued at $1 each and two nail polishes valued at $1.50 each.
Jenkins said he doesn’t believe his sister was a prostitute.
Keon Burl, 27, of Landover, doesn’t believe his mother was a prostitute, either. He said he knew she had a drug problem but said she was trying to get clean.
His mother also left behind 21-year-old and 10-year-old daughters and two grandchildren. The youngest daughter will now stay with an aunt, Burl said.
Burl has hope that the police will catch the person who did this to his mother.
“I definitely do. So our family can be at peace.”
Correction: The homicide total in this story has been changed to accurately reflect the number of killings this year, which was 35 as of April 25, 2011.
Capital News Service reporter Laura Lee and Maryland Newsline reporter Alexander Pyles contributed to this story.