Friends and neighbors remember Darrell Dewitt, 44, as a quiet but friendly man who was good with electronics. But his last moments alive were likely filled with violence and chaos.
Police in the back bedroom of an apartment in Elk Grove Tuesday evening, with several stab wounds to his upper torso. They now say Dewitt's 19-year-old son, also named Darrell Dewitt, killed his father with an ax.
The son was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail Friday afternoon on homicide charges. Elk Grove Patch could not immediately reach him or an attorney for an interview.
Tessa Garvin, a grounds maintenance worker for the apartment complex at 9521 Emerald Park Drive, said she knew the victim. She started working there four years ago, and the man and his two sons were already living at the apartment.
“They were a nice, quiet family,” Garvin said. “Because I worked there, I would walk past that apartment once or twice daily, and I never heard anything.”
Two years ago, Gavin found a laptop computer abandoned at the complex and brought it to Dewitt to see if it could be repaired.
“He fooled around with computers and electronics all the time, and he enjoyed that,” she said. “He checked it out for me and told me it wasn’t working. He told me that when I was ready to get a laptop, he could help me find one. He was just a very, very nice man.”
Alex Zander, 21, of Sacramento, said he was a close friend of the older Dewitt for about three years. He knew the victim’s two teenage sons while they all attended , and Zander worked for their father, helping him around the apartment, then became friends with him.
He said the man had heart problems. Zander would walk with Dewitt to the Bank of America on Elk Grove Boulevard, and the man would lean on him for support.
Zander said Dewitt was raising his two sons alone, at least for the last several years. Dewitt would argue with his older son Darrell often, he said, sometimes staying in his bedroom in the back of the apartment for days after a fight with his son.
“The fights I saw were never physical, they were always verbal,” Zander said. "He did the best he could to raise his family. He was really smart and taught me a lot of things."
Zander believes the victim worked previously as a janitor and a computer technician, but had been unemployed because of health problems.
Kalamjit Kaur moved into the next-door apartment with her husband about a year ago. She, her husband and two baby sons were gone when police arrived at the scene about 7:47 p.m. Tuesday. When they returned home, they found their parking lot full of police and medical personnel and strung with crime scene tape.
“They seemed like calm people,” Kaur said of the Dewitts. “I only said ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ to them. I never heard anything, and there was not a lot activity. They stayed to themselves.”
She knew Dewitt lived there with two sons, but never saw a mother. Kaur found it odd that the teenage son Darrell drove his father’s truck on Monday, the first time she had ever seen him drive it.
Elk Grove police found the younger Dewitt inside the home at the Emerald Garden apartments Tuesday night, also with stab wounds to his upper torso. He spent several days at a local hospital where he was treated for superficial wounds that police believe were self-inflicted, said Officer Christopher Trim.
“We have no motive at this time,” Trim said, but added that the investigation was ongoing. An ax believed to be the murder weapon was recovered at the scene, Trim said.
Gavin said many neighbors were astonished and panicked about the killing, especially since the neighborhood was the scene of a standoff on Monday night. A SWAT team and canine unit were dispatched to El Mirador Court to detain a 25-year-old man who had barricaded himself in a home.
“Everyone is saying this neighborhood has gone bad,” she said. “I have one friend who wanted to start packing and move out right away. I’ve lived in Elk Grove for 48 years and nothing like this has ever happened near me. But I reminded her that all these things are taking place inside homes. This is not the neighborhood, these are people who have problems.”
Anyone with additional information regarding this investigation is asked to call the Elk Grove Police Department Dispatch Center (916) 714-5115.