Mingdong Chen did not speak and did not enter a plea. His attorney, Danielle Eaddy, said her client had been injured while in police custody and appeared to have two bruises on his forehead. She did not immediately request a psychiatric hearing.
He was held without bail. His next court date was set for Friday, where a grand jury was expected to determine whether to indict him in the deaths of 37-year-old Qiao Zhen Li and her children, Linda, 9; Amy, 7; Kevin, 5; and 18-month-old William, all with the last name Zhuo.
"They were cut and butchered with a kitchen knife," said NYPD Chief of Department Captain Philip Banks III, "we have the knife, the perpetrator made statements eluding that he utilized this knife to commit this act."
Investigators say at about 10:45 Saturday night, they received a 911 call. Upon arrival, officers found three of the victims dead at the scene. The mother and the 5-year-old boy were rushed to hospitals where they died.
Chen, 25, was taken into custody at the apartment. He was escorted by officers in bare feet while covered in blood.
Chen was also charged with assaulting a police officer while being questioned at a precinct after the grisly killings Saturday evening.
The upsetting nature of this tragedy is still being felt by neighbors and the curious who stand across from the scene.
"It is sad to hear about it," Hafid Pene said.
Pene, with his own child at his side, has trouble understanding this violence.
"You don't know what is next. It's just sad," he said. "It's just sad there are no words for that. Even I am sad and I don't even know them."
The family's father and husband was visibly upset on Sunday as he was helped through his ordeal by police. He is said to be overcome with grief.
Chen, a cousin of the husband, was taken on Sunday night from the precinct to a hospital for DNA testing and other samples. Investigators are also still working on a motive.
"He made a very short comment that since he has been in this country everyone seems to be doing better than him. And that is his sole comment. We are not really sure what that means," Capt. Philip Banks III said.
As the curious now gather on 57th Street, they stare at murder scene left quiet by this tragedy, still hard to understand.
"It's too much. It's a big thing. Never a big thing happen around here. Everybody in shock," Melita Castillo said.