Sunday, August 25, 2002

Child saw stabbings, fled house

Mother recovering, learns oldest daughter survived

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WARSAW, Ky. - The lone surviving child of Friday's brutal stabbings provided chilling details Saturday of the attack that left her younger brother and sister dead and her mother in serious condition.

        Ten-year-old Courtney Sharon, daughter of Carolyn Marksberry, told her aunt that Marco Allen Chapman woke her up early Friday and led her to the kitchen, where he “started his craziness.”

        “She can't stop talking about it,” said the aunt, Brenda Raisor of Walton. “She knew her brother was killed. She didn't know her sister was dead.

        Courtney was released Saturday from Children's Hospital Medical Center and brought to her great-grandparent's home in Warsaw, where the family huddled with a local minister.

        “We just listen,” said Ms. Raisor, 46. “We don't ask anything until she wants to talk. But I think she saw a lot.”

        Ms. Raisor said Courtney blames herself for her 6-year-old brother's death.

        “(Cody) was still living when (Courtney) left because he begged her not to leave,” Ms. Raisor said. “But she left the house to get help. She pretended to be dead, and when (Mr. Chapman) was trying to kill her mother, she snuck out the back door to get help.”

        Courtney told her aunt that Mr. Chapman got into the home while the family slept.

        “He had done some carpentry work at the home and knew where the spare key was hidden,” Ms. Raisor said, adding Mr. Chapman parked his car behind the house early Friday.

        Courtney appeared on a Cincinnati television station Saturday with a bandage over her right ear to wish her mother a quick recovery.

  Contributions to help Carolyn Marksberry can be made at any of the Integra Bank locations across Kentucky or sent to:
  The Carolyn Marksberry Special Account
  Integra Bank
  401 E. Main St.
  Warsaw, Ky. 41095
  Phone: 859-567-5071
        Mrs. Marksberry, 37, learned Saturday morning that her two youngest children - Chelbi, 7, and Cody - were killed, Ms. Raisor said.

        Mrs. Marksberry didn't believe that Courtney had survived. So family members brought in Polaroid photographs of her. Tapes of Courtney's get-well wishes were also delivered to the hospital, family members confirmed.

        Mrs. Marksberry, upgraded to serious condition at University Hospital, underwent five hours of surgery Friday to repair damage caused by 15 stab wounds to the neck, chest, arm and fingers.

        Shirtless and tattooed, Mr. Chapman of unincorporated Boone County, was arraigned Friday afternoon in Kanawha County, W.Va., Magistrate Court and taken to a jail near Charleston.

        The 30-year-old is being held without bond, pending an extradition hearing within the next 10 days. He is charged with two counts of murder, two counts of first-degree assault and one count of burglary.

        Federal court records show Mr. Chapman, a youth soccer coach last fall in Warsaw, pleaded guilty to a Texas bank robbery in 1994. Virginia court records show he was found guilty in an assault on a University of Virginia student in October 2000.

        Sheila Lowder of Carlton-Lowder Funeral Service in Warsaw said arrangements for Chelbi and Cody have been delayed in hopes that Mrs. Marksberry will be able to attend or at least plan the service. Ms. Raisor said Mrs. Marksberry could barely talk Saturday.

        “I know if they were my children I would want a say in the funeral arrangements,” Ms. Lowder said. “We have told the family there is no rush.”

        Mrs. Marksberry's husband of one year, Charles, arrived in Cincinnati Saturday night and went to the hospital. He had been in Spain since June training for his job with North American Stainless in Ghent, six miles from Warsaw.

        Ms. Raisor said the children's father, Curt Sharon, was an involved parent and is taking the deaths extremely hard.

        Ms. Lowder said a fund for Mrs. Marksberry has been established at an area bank.

        “This has devastated our community,” said Jack Lowder III of Carlton-Lowder Funeral Service. “This is a small community. If you didn't know Chelbi or Cody, you knew their father, their grandparents or their great-grandparents. They all still live in the area.”

        Kentucky State Police said Mr. Chapman broke into Mrs. Marksberry's home sometime before 5 a.m. Friday and used a knife to kill the two youngest children. Neighbors say Mrs. Marksberry escaped from the house, where she apparently had been bound with duct tape, and sought help from a neighbor. About the same time, Courtney went to another neighbor asking for help.

        The first calls to emergency dispatch came in at 6 a.m. Warsaw Police Chief Donnie Gould said he was the first on the scene. He found one child's lifeless body in one bedroom and the other child's lifeless body in another bedroom. Sgt. John Bradley of the Kentucky State Police said detectives were able to identify Mr. Chapman as the alleged attacker early on from information provided by Mrs. Marksberry and Courtney.

        When Courtney escaped, Ms. Raisor said, she went to the home of Debbie Peace, a neighbor, and said that her former boyfriend had tried to kill her mother.

        Ms. Peace, a friend of Mrs. Marksberry, broke up with Mr. Chapman a week ago, Ms. Raisor said, and Mrs. Marksberry had been advising her on the relationship.

        Police, however, would not confirm a motive. Ms. Peace's relatives refused to comment Saturday.

        Mr. Chapman fled to Boone County, where he switched vehicles before he was apprehended about 270 miles and six hours later at a gas station in Shrewsbury, W.Va., according to police. He was not armed, and no weapons were found in the truck when he was arrested, said Sheriff David Tucker of Kanawha County.

        How anyone could stab to death two children was the subject of conversation Saturday morning at Warsaw's post office.

        “You never know what is going to happen,” said Priscilla Garrett, who lives with her 65-year-old mother several doors away from the Marksberrys. “My mother has suffered badly. She is thinking about selling, moving from Warsaw. None of us even want to go back to the house.”

        Warsaw, an Ohio River town of 1,800 residents, is the seat of Gallatin County and 32 miles southwest of Cincinnati.

        Gallatin County Elementary School will be open 2-4 p.m. today to provide a gathering place for people to talk with counselors. Cody was in first grade, and Chelbi was in third grade at Gallatin County Elementary School. Courtney is a fifth-grader at neighboring Gallatin County Upper Elementary School.

        Dot Perkins, superintendent of the 730-student Gallatin County School District, said classes would resume Monday, but that a crisis response team will be available for students and teachers.

        The Associated Press contributed.

Saturday story: Mother, children stabbed, 2 fatally

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