Crime - Sacto 911

Grandmother, grandsons identified as three found dead in Broadway apartment

Marquise Brown, left, and James Ferrell were found dead late Saturday.
Marquise Brown, left, and James Ferrell were found dead late Saturday. Courtesy of Whitney Ferrell

Christine Lucas and her large family are driven by faith. Lucas, known to her many friends and relatives as “Tina,” was active in her husband’s south Sacramento ministry.

It’s that faith that is providing some solace to Lucas’ loved ones.

Lucas, 68, and her two grandsons were found dead Saturday night in an apartment in the Alder Grove housing project on Broadway, the victims of a triple homicide. Coroner’s officials were trying to determine how the three were killed, and the Sacramento Police Department has shared few details of the killings.

Found dead along with their grandmother was Marquise Brown, 23, the father of a young girl, and James R. Ferrell, 20, who graduated from high school in May.

Whitney Ferrell, a sister of the two younger victims, said Brown was particularly close to his grandmother.

“Luckily, we are surrounded by faith and God,” Whitney Ferrell said. “I like to believe everything happens for a reason, and having them go together (Lucas and Brown), they have a close bond and it was significant. Tragic, but significant.”

Brown was working for the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps, an education and workforce training program whose participants work to restore the environment, his sister said. She said Brown and James Ferrell were outgoing and friendly, and that Ferrell had graduated in May from Heritage Peak Charter School. “That was a big accomplishment for him and our family, a huge stepping stone,” Whitney Ferrell said.

Robert Ferrell said his son was about to attend American River College.

“He was an upbeat guy,” Robert Ferrell said of James. “Life was changing; life was turning around.”

Ferrell said his son always befriended the homeless and lost or injured animals.

“James was a young man who would bring homeless people home,” said the elder Ferrell. “We would keep them for a few days. He was sensitive. He was always like that as a child.”

The apartment where the three died was the residence of his son and his ex-wife Twanna Lucas, according to the elder Ferrell. It was Twanna Lucas who discovered the bodies, according to Robert Ferrell.

“She had just come back from Napa on a train trip,” Ferrell said. “She’s shocked.”

Ferrell said his son had asked to borrow his car to go to the movies on Saturday, but the father declined to loan the vehicle. Ferrell believes that Christine Lucas let James use a car and that she was at the apartment waiting for him to return.

“She spoiled him when James was growing up,” Robert Ferrell said. “He loved her.”

Christine Lucas was the wife of the Rev. John Lucas, pastor of Gloryland Revival Center. A biography of the couple on Faith Ministries International Network identifies her as a co-pastor.

“She was a grandma to everyone, a mom to everyone,” Whitney Ferrell said. “She had a heart of gold.”

The church operates once a month at the state Capitol and on other Sundays at a ranch-style home in the Parkway neighborhood, according to its website. Ferrell said that he once served as a youth pastor with the center.

“She raised so many other people’s kids that it is pathetic,” Robert Ferrell said. “She would give you anything, but she would also get in your face too. She was down for all the kids in the world.”

Lucas and the two young men had obvious injuries, a police spokesman said, but the exact causes of their deaths will be determined by Sacramento County coroner’s officials. No arrests had been made, and police did not reveal a suspected motive for the killings.

Police said first word about the homicides came at 7:35 p.m. Saturday. Someone used a phone outside of Fire Station 5 to tell Sacramento Fire Department dispatchers there were two dead people in a home across the street from the station.

The apartment unit where the three were found dead is part of a complex of tidy brick buildings that line the 700 block of Broadway in the Alder Grove public housing project. Fire department medical personnel pronounced all three of the victims dead.

Homicide detectives spoke to witnesses, and crime-scene investigators collected potential evidence.

Alder Grove was built decades ago as housing for the poor. Sacramento housing officials say the rows of brick buildings should be razed and replaced by a mixed-use neighborhood, where the poor would live with more affluent families instead of being concentrated in one spot.

The plan is to intermingle the different economic households mimics what has been done in other cities. The demolition and rebuilding could take a decade or more to complete.

Bee writer Ellen Garrison contributed to this report.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews