Carmen Robinson heard the shot that killed her daughter. She flinched at the loud scream that followed. Later, she saw the flashing lights of police cars at a nearby bus stop.
Her daughter, Janice Stephanie Jones, 24, had left her Woodlawn apartment a few minutes earlier.
"I had a terrible feeling," Mrs. Robinson said this week, "but I didn't know what it was all about at the time."
As their two grandchildren played nearby, Carmen and Oswald Robinson sat in the living room of their red brick home in West Baltimore, quietly recounting in soft Jamaican accents the events that left their daughter dead on a Baltimore County street last Thursday. No suspects have been arrested.
Mr. Robinson, a bricklayer who brought his family to the United States 22 years ago, drove his wife to Janice's apartment on Mountbatten Court early Oct. 14, so she could watch Janice's children, Freddie, 4, and Dontay, 2.
"She was going to take the bus to Towson, to the Social Services department. She had gone to an orientation meeting there the day before," Mrs. Robinson said.
Mrs. Jones was to begin an unpaid training program that would prepare her for a job, said a spokesman for Baltimore County Social Services.
"Janice had everything ready when we got there," Mrs. Robinson said. "Freddie was going on the bus to prekindergarten. She had lunch for Dontay put together and his clothes laid out. She was always well organized."
Her daughter had been gone only a few minutes when Mrs. Robinson heard the shot.
"It was unsettling, but I really didn't have any idea something terrible had happened," she said. "I made myself a cup of tea, and took Freddie downstairs to an apartment where he would wait with a friend to take the school bus."
She returned to her daughter's apartment, went upstairs and looked out the window. She saw police lights, but couldn't see any people because of the trees.
"It was not even a block away," she said.
Then a knock came on the door.
"It was three police officers," said Mrs. Robinson. "They asked me if I knew a Janice Jones. 'That's my daughter!' I said."
One officer said her daughter had been found shot on Essex Road near Retinue Court and had been taken to Northwest Medical Center.
"They asked if they could call someone for me, and that they would wait until someone came," Mrs. Robinson said. "They were very nice and thoughtful."
When Mrs. Robinson's daughter, Allison, arrived, an officer broke the news.
"He said, 'I have bad news. Your sister is dead,' " Mrs. Robinson said.
Janice Jones, the county's 24th homicide victim this year, suffered a single gunshot wound to the upper chest. A woman looking out of a window saw her stagger and fall, face down. The woman then called police, thinking Mrs. Jones was drunk.
Two young men ran from the scene, according to witnesses who could provide little description. Baltimore County police think Mrs. Jones was killed in a failed robbery. Nothing appeared to have been taken from her purse, which was found at the scene.
"She wouldn't have had much money with her," her mother said.
Police are asking anyone with information about the murder to call 887-2198.
"My daughter always worked after school and during the summers," Mrs. Robinson said. "And she was very kind. She would give you the shoes off her feet. She once bought a woman some fries and coffee in Burger King because she knew the woman was so hungry and had no money."
Mrs. Jones graduated from Edmondson High School in 1987. She and her husband, Freddie Jones III, had separated.
The Robinsons kept the news from their grandchildren until Monday.
"We talked to the school counselors about the best way to do it, and they said just tell the truth," said Mrs. Robinson. "Freddie knew right along something was wrong. He said, 'Somebody got shot up there. Did someone shoot my mom?' "
Mrs. Jones was the fourth of the Robinsons' five children. The couple said they will seek custody of their two grandchildren.
Janice Stephanie Jones will be buried today in King Memorial Park on Dogwood Road, after services at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church on Loudon Avenue. Services will begin at 11:30 a.m.
"I wish I had taken the bullet," Mr. Robinson said. "I've lived my life."
"I took Freddie to the March Funeral Home on Wabash Avenue on Tuesday," Mrs. Robinson said.
"I was resting my hand on the casket, and he thought I was going to close it. He said, 'Leave it open Grandma, so she can see the light.' "