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Cambria Hts. family seeks answers in 2003 triple slay

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A 36-year-old woman from Far Rockaway was arrested in connection with the killings in November and charged with murder, burglary and weapons possession, but she was not believed to be the shooter, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said at the time. The suspect, Sandra Powell, is still waiting to go before a grand jury, the DA's office said this week.

For the family of the victims, not knowing who actually killed their loved ones has caused yet more grief during a difficult time of year. Reached Friday at her home on 228th St. in Cambria Heights, Vera McCalla, Carren Chamber's mother, said she still sought answers from the police.

"We have been calling and calling and calling," she said. "They're not giving us any information. Everyday we call, but they don't want to say who did the shooting. It's my daughter --- I want to know why they killed her."

McCalla said officers have told her that they have identified two additional suspects, both male, but neither the police nor the DA could confirm her account. The DA's office said, however, that the investigation of the crime was continuing.

Powell, the woman who has been arrested, was a former roommate of Carren Chambers' said McCalla. She surmises that Powell may have given up her alleged accomplices.

Carren Chambers emigrated from Jamaica in 1984 and was working toward her master's in accounting at York College in Jamaica when she was killed. Barnes also hailed from Jamaica and operated a hardware store in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Tisha Chambers was visiting from the island nation but planned to come back to the United States for law school that fall.

Each of the three died from a gunshot wound to the head, and duct tape marks on their wrists indicated they had been bound at some point. The criminal complaint against Powell said she and a male companion were looking for marijuana in the house but did not find any. A law enforcement source confirmed for the TimesLedger at the time that the drug had been found months earlier in a car registered to Carren Chambers.

Tisha Chambers body was found in the kitchen by Kadeem Chambers, 13 at the time and the son of Carren Chambers and Barnes. Kadeem ran across the street to call police, and a neighbor told TimesLedger she later saw him sitting alone on the stoop, crying with his head in his hands.

Kadeem and his sister Shanice, 5 years old at the time, now live in Philadelphia with another of McCalla's daughters, she said. The younger girl is doing well, but Kadeem became upset on his mother's birthday, May 15, and has had difficulty coping with her loss, McCalla said.

McCalla added that she fainted last week because of the emotional anniversary with "everything coming back." On June 9 she held a family reunion in her home to commemorate the loss of her daughter. And on July 17 she and other relatives will visit the Jamaica grave site where the Chambers sisters and Barnes are buried.

For now she said she prays for the truth to soon come out.

"I would feel much better," McCalla said.

Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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