Myrna Jolly could not comprehend the news when it hit her a decade ago.
Jolly's 2-year-old granddaughter and the baby's other grandmother were killed in a house fire in Prince George's County. Police say it was murder.
Jolly was in denial about the deaths of little Nakiya Marie Roberts and 53-year-old Dorethea Marie Roberts.
When authorities asked for the baby's footprint record to identify the child, it didn't dawn on Jolly that Nakiya had died. At the funeral Jolly believed someone else was inside the coffin. Afterward she was sure she saw her son's little girl -- her only grandchild -- playing in the front yard.
"It's still not hitting me right, Jolly told The Washington Examiner recently. "For a long, very long time, I thought someone took the baby and that she would come back."
Prince George's County police cold-case detectives are asking the public to come forward with information to help solve this double-homicide and bring some comfort to the families.
The case is one of thousands of cold-case homicides in the capital region, and detectives say someone has information about what happened that night.
"It is a horrible case. A grandmother and baby die by combination of an assault and fire," said Sgt. Rick Fulginiti. "Police are looking for anybody that can give us any leads."
The two were found dead on March 14, 2003, after fire fighters responded to a blaze on 3312 Poplar Drive in Upper Marlboro.
Dorethea was found in the living room with trauma to her head. Nakiya was found in a bedroom.
Police believe the fire was set intentionally to mask the killings. They found no motive to explain why someone would want to kill the grandmother or child.
Jolly said she has gone to grief counseling, but believes she needs to go back. She wants the person who did this to come forward.
"It took my happiness away from me," Jolly said. "You can't cope until you find out who did it and why. I want to know before I close my eyes."
Anyone with information in this case is asked to call Prince George's County Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS (8477).
Readers who would like to have a cold-case homicide -- a killing that remains unsolved after three years -- featured on The Examiner's Crime & Punishment page can email Scott McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-459-4950.
-- Scott McCabe