FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Police said the deaths of a mother and her young daughter at their Fort Lauderdale home was the result of a murder-suicide.
Family members said there was nothing that could have served as a warning sign before this tragic event, Tuesday morning. Police said Ericka Joseph shot and killed her daughter before turning the gun on herself.
According to Fort Lauderdale Police, a family member found two bodies, a mother and daughter, identified as Ericka Joseph and her 9-year-old daughter Akili Joseph, inside their Northwest Fort Lauderdale home along Northwest 29th Terrace, at around 5:30 a.m. Police have yet to confirm the age of the mother.
“At this time, detectives are on the scene investigating the cause of death and the circumstances surrounding it,” said Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Keven Dupree.
Tony Williams, the brother of Joseph, received the phone call about his sister and niece, early Tuesday morning, and that his deceased sister may be responsible for the deaths. “She’s going to be missed,” said Williams.
He is now making funeral arrangements for Ericka and Akili.
“It’s hard. It’s very hard,” said neighbor Corine Nelson. “Something to wake up to, the family. Wasn’t looking for this, this morning.”
Williams said her sister’s ex-husband came to their house to pick up Akili for an early Tuesday morning flight to Bogota, Colombia where he works. “He was here, supposed to be on a plane at this time, but that’s when the major discovery was brought to light,” said Williams.
Both Joseph and her ex-husband were retired Marines, Williams said, and had a good relationship. They both shared custody of Akili. Williams said Joseph’s ex-husband even had dinner with Akili the night before. Williams alleges the family noticed minor changes in Ericka’s behavior but nothing that made them worry that something like this would happen.
“Sometimes, you kind of notice with military personnel,” said Williams. “It’s a rough transition, but she was coping with that very well, we thought.”
A neighbor that knew the mother and daughter said he was used to seeing both around the neighborhood. “I be sitting around by myself,” said the neighbor, “so, like I said, I just pray for ’em. It’s sad to see it happen like that.”
On Monday night, neighbors witnessed Ericka closing hurricane shutters on the windows of the house. “This shutter right here, she was closing it up and making sure it was locked,” said neighbor Chaunecia Gresham. “My boyfriend was like, ‘What is she doing? A hurricane is not coming.'”
Neighbors said it seemed strange that Ericka was putting up the shutters so late at night.
“Might have been battling something that was unknown to the family at this time,” Williams said. “It’s caused now, obviously, a great tragedy.”
Officials have yet to find a reason for their deaths but said they are not searching for a suspect at this time. “It’s a very early point in the investigation,” said Dupree. “We’re trying to determine what happened.”
Williams said Akili loved to play soccer and would have turned 10 years old in April.
The investigation continues as the cause of death remains unknown. Police said from the beginning of their investigation that they were not searching for any suspects, and confirmed, Tuesday afternoon, that this case was a murder-suicide.
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