EASTON -- Two schoolteachers and a son, 14, were found slain in their home early yesterday morning, police said, and an elder son -- a 16-year-old described as a "regular kid" -- was arrested and charged in the killings.
Christopher Douglas Fisher, 27, his wife, Susan Rae Fisher, who would have been 42 today, and a son, David Christopher Fisher, were lying dead in their bedrooms when officers answered a 911 call from their residence at 5:24 a.m., said Col. Walter E. Chase Sr., Easton's chief of police.
All three victims had been attacked with a kitchen knife and a claw hammer, he said.
Police said the 911 call was made by the elder son, Michael Fisher, who met officers when they arrived. He was charged last night with three counts of first-degree murder, said State's Attorney Scott Patterson, and held without bail in the Talbot County Detention Center.
Police kept the white, two-story house in a working-class neighborhood, just north of town, cordoned off most of the day and provided few details of the slayings. They would not comment on any statements Michael Fisher made to police and offered no speculation on a possible motive for the slayings.
"All three appeared to have died as a result of trauma to the head and neck," said Colonel Chase at an afternoon news conference.
Mr. and Mrs. Fisher were in their bed, their younger son on the floor of his bedroom, Colonel Chase said. Both bedrooms are on the second floor, and no signs of struggle were apparent, he said. No other people are being sought in the slayings, Colonel Chase said.
Mr. Fisher taught fourth grade at White Marsh Elementary School in nearby Trappe, police said, and Mrs. Fisher taught biology at Easton High School, where Michael Fisher was a junior.
The news shocked the quiet neighborhood.
"They were really friendly -- a real presence in the neighborhood," said David Williams, who lives across the street from the Fisher house. The elder son baby-sat for the two Williams boys.
"The first time he baby-sat for us, he did the dishes," recalled Mr. Williams. "He wanted to make a good impression... Our house was kind of Kid Depot, and David spent a lot of time over here."
Other neighbors didn't know the Fishers as well, but all agreed the family had been unexceptionable until yesterday. Police said they had had no previous calls from or about the Fisher residence.
It was the first triple homicide in Easton that Colonel Chase, a 37-year veteran of the Police Department, could recall. The news spread quickly throughout the community and those who knew the Fishers said they could think of no examples of family strife that might have caused such violence.
The two boys were Mrs. Fisher's sons by a previous marriage but had been adopted by Mr. Fisher after the couple married. They kept two ferrets for pets, neighbors said.
"My son just retrieved their ferret a week ago" after it got loose, said Dale Hicks, who lives across the street, and runs a small market nearby. "They were so delighted to have it back... They always seemed like nice people."
Adults and peers who knew Michael Fisher said he was a quiet, polite teen, and his younger brother was much like him.
"He's just a regular kid, sorta quiet," Jamie McDaniel, 17, who lives around the corner, said of Michael. He and others described Michael as a friendly person who had no particular girlfriend, and spent his spare time playing computer games and working at Pizza Hut in Easton.
"He never got in trouble or anything," said Bryan James, 16, another friend.
Students and teachers at Easton High School were shocked and saddened by the news.
"It hit very close to home," said student Maggie Denny. "Everybody's really in shock." The news was announced to each classroom yesterday morning, she said.
Yesterday afternoon the porch lights, still decked in Christmas bows, were on at the Fisher residence and the newspaper lay untouched in the driveway next to the Fishers' two cars. Neighbors watched a steady stream of detectives, officers and evidence technicians go in and out.
Final determination of the fatal wounds will await an autopsy and forensic examination in Baltimore, where the three bodies were sent yesterday, Colonel Chase said.
Michael Fisher was charged as an adult, police said, but will not face the death penalty if convicted because state law prohibits seeking the death penalty for juveniles.