The 4-year-old boy's explanation was even more startling than the sight of him, barefoot and clad in pajamas, standing alone in the lobby of a highway rest stop.
Judith and Michael McConnell and her husband, Michael, had pulled into the rest stop on Interstate 70 about 50 miles outside of Dayton just after 9 p.m. on Jan. 2.
The boy was by himself, staring out a window. Judith McConnell waved at him as they walked in. What he said next was chilling: "A man came into my house without knocking and shot my mommy."
The men then left him alone at the rest stop, the boy said.The couple, driving home to Maryland after Christmas in Colorado, took the boy into their car to warm up and called police.
"He's been abandoned here by a man with a gun," Michael McConnell told police. "He's quite disturbed."
As they waited for deputies to arrive, the boy recited the information his mother had drilled into him - his address, his parents' names, two phone numbers.
When Montgomery County sheriff's deputies arrived at his family's small white bungalow in Dayton later that night, they found the body of his 29-year-old mother, shot to death.
The woman died after struggling with her attacker, said Sheriff Phil Plummer. The killer also sexually assaulted the boy before taking him to the rest stop and abandoning him, police said.