By Alex Ginsberg
A 13-year-old Cambria Heights boy came home from school Monday afternoon and walked into a nightmare.
Police said Kadeen Chambers entered the house at 236-18 120th Ave. only to find his 21-year-old aunt, Tisha Chambers, dead on the kitchen floor from a gunshot wound to the head.
The boy ran across the street to call police from a neighbor's house, and minutes later cops discovered the bodies of the child's parents in the home. Caren Chambers, 34, was found at the foot of the basement stairs and Larie Barnes, 39, in another basement room, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said at the scene.
The murders occurred some time between 7:30 a.m., when Kadeen left for PS 176 two blocks away, and 12:15 p.m., when he returned home for lunch and made the gruesome discovery. Both the boy and his 5-year-old sister, Shanice, who was in pre-school at the time, were placed in the care of relatives, Brown said.
The two-story white house on a corner just blocks from the Cross Island Parkway was cordoned off by police as friends, relatives and shocked residents of the quiet middle-class neighborhood looked on.
“Oh, my god,” said Lorraine Evans McLeish, a cousin of Caren Chambers. “I can't express it. I want justice. I want to know the killer.”
McLeish said Chambers was friendly, had a lively sense of humor and liked to dress up in elegant clothing.
“I don't know if she did anything to hurt anybody,” she said.
Barrington White, Chambers' uncle, added, “You could just call her. She would give you good advice.”
Although there were no signs of forced entry, a law enforcement source said parts of the house were ransacked, suggesting that the killers were looking for something specific. The source also said duct tape marks on all three victims' wrists indicated that they had been bound by their attackers at some point. All three were killed by what appeared to be a single gunshot wound to the head.
The source also confirmed reports that marijuana had been found months earlier in a car registered to Caren Chambers – suggesting a possible drug connection.
But relatives said the family had no enemies.
“I have no idea who would do this,” said Vera McCalla, Caren's mother, as she hid her face behind a towel and cried.
Area residents described the immigrant couple from Jamaica as hardworking. Barnes had made several improvements to the house since moving in to the neighborhood several years ago, including a white brick wall on the east side of the property and decorative lampposts on the lawn.
He spent most days at the Brooklyn hardware store he owned, while Chambers worked as a payroll accountant.
“They were nice,” said Lydia Williams, 12, a neighbor. “Everyone was nice in that house.”
She recalled seeing Kadeen sitting on the stoop, head in hands and crying, just before police arrived.
“He was scared and shocked,” she said.
Tisha Chambers, Caren's half-sister, did not normally live in the house but was visiting for the summer from Jamaica, Hazel Tyme, a relative, said. She remembered Tisha's intelligence, still using the present tense to talk about the girl.
“She's not a common girl,” she said. “She's a lady.”
Neighbors said the home was robbed only five days earlier and expensive sports jerseys and sneakers taken, but police would not comment on any connection between the two events.
Charles McKnight, a retiree who lives around the corner from the family, said he liked Barnes, who often gave him free cigarettes.
But he also described Barnes as “a macho kind of guy” who would try to “handle things himself” like the earlier break-in.
Hours after police arrived at the scene, residents continued to watch evidence teams and medical examiner's office personnel from across the street.
“I have lived here for 35 years and we've never had a scene like this,” said John Sampson, 79. “It's a big shock.”
Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.