A family patriarch was found stabbed to death inside a Queens apartment early Thursday, and three relatives were discovered in another room, unconscious and barely alive, the police said.
The police said they encountered the adult son of the slain man in a hallway outside the second-floor apartment at about 6:30 a.m., with blood on his hands and feet, talking about how he had stabbed his father. He was arrested and brought to a hospital for a psychological evaluation, the police said.
Inside the apartment, officers found the body of the man’s father in the bathroom and three other adult members of the family on a mattress in the living room, unresponsive and with faint pulses, the police said.
The three relatives were taken to Long Island Jewish Medical Center in critical condition. It was unclear what caused their injuries, but the police said they were investigating the possibility that they had been poisoned.
“They had no apparent signs of trauma to their bodies,” Assistant Chief Joseph Kenny of the Citywide Investigations Division said at a news conference.
The police did not identify the stabbing victim, but a relative who lives in Connecticut, Tanya Barrett, said that he was her uncle, Loandous Walker, 72, and that the son under arrest was Jamie Walker, 30.
The other family members found in the living room were Loandous Walker’s 70-year-old wife, his 31-year-old son and his 29-year-old daughter-in-law, according to the authorities and relatives.
When officers arrived, they encountered the man identified as Jamie Walker acting incoherently in the hallway and saying things that incriminated himself in the attack, Chief Kenny said. He was arrested without a struggle.
A trail of blood led officers to the bathroom, where they found the 72-year-old victim with several stab wounds to his chest, the police said. A pair of bloody scissors was discovered between the kitchen and the bathroom, according to an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.
Chief Kenny said that the Fire Department had not detected poisonous gases in the apartment.
The official briefed on the case said investigators found three plastic bottles that contained remnants of an unknown substance.
Chief Kenny said the police had no records of domestic violence calls at the location, in the Queens Village neighborhood.
Mr. Walker and his wife, Valda Walker, moved to the New York area more than 30 years ago from their native Jamaica, Ms. Barrett said. He had recently retired from his job as a maintenance worker at a hospital, she said.
Ms. Barrett said she spoke to Valda Walker a day earlier and did not get any indication there was tension between Mr. Walker and his son Jamie.
“I asked, ‘How are the guys?’ And she said, ‘They are OK. Jamie is here, he’s on the computer and he’s OK,’” Ms. Barrett said.
Ms. Barrett also said she had seen no warning sign that Jamie Walker might do something violent. “This is not like him,” she said. “Everybody in the family is asking, ‘What happened?’”
On Thursday morning, about a dozen officers and detectives were clustered around the front door of the brick apartment building. Police vehicles and a medical examiner’s car shut down the right lane of Hempstead Avenue, snarling traffic. Drivers slowed as they took in the scene.
Later that morning, investigators carrying bundles of brown paper entered the building. They wore white booties used to avoid disturbing evidence.
Tatiana Walker, who lives on the third floor and is not related to the family, said the tragedy had rattled neighbors in the neighborhood of low-slung apartment buildings just a few miles from the city limits.
The father and son seemed to be inseparable in public, Ms. Walker said, and there was no indication that the son had ever been violent.
Mr. Walker’s older son and his son’s wife had recently moved to the first floor to be closer to the family and were often seen together, going to church or doing laundry, Tatiana Walker said.
“I just pray that everyone pulls through,” she said. “This is very shocking and heartbreaking to us all.”
During the pandemic, Loadnous Walker woke up early every morning to keep the building clean and take the trash out.
“He was a very, very caring man,” Ms. Walker said. “To learn that he’s dead, we can’t possibly understand it.”
Ian Ramsey, 63, an automotive technician, said that he knew the family to be “very religious,” and that they were often heard chanting loudly in the second-floor apartment.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to work for the rest of the day,” Mr. Ramsey said
Cecelia Pierre, 49, watched the police clustered around the apartment building about 11:45 a.m. She said that she lived in a house not far from the building and had heard shrieking from that direction between 1 and 2 a.m.
“Somebody was screaming, you could tell they were in severe pain,” Ms. Pierre said. The neighborhood, she said, was usually quiet. “It’s really scary to know it happened right there.”
Susan C. Beachy contributed research.