“Mr. Buzbee has helped to kill off the person that I was supposed to be,” she told a judge, her voice and hands shaking. “And I still wonder who that person might have been.”
Dubbed the “Aspen Hill Rapist,” Timothy J. Buzbee rained terror on Montgomery three decades ago, attacking women as young as 15 in what police said was a string of at least 11 rapes. He broke into homes. He lurked along shadowy sidewalks. He posed as a jogger while looking for victims. Buzbee was captured in 1982, was later convicted and has been behind bars ever since.
On Thursday, Buzbee was back in court to be punished for three more rapes in Montgomery, dating to 1977. DNA linked Buzbee to the long-unsolved crimes in 2009, and prosecutors went after him, knowing there was a chance he could someday be released on parole. Hoping to secure additional prison time, they asked four victims — ages 50 to 58 — to come to court to tell the judge how the attacks changed their lives.
The women met for the first time Thursday morning, about an hour before the hearing was to start in Montgomery Circuit Court.
Three came from the Washington region — the Olney woman, a 58-year-old tax lawyer who lives in the District and a 56-year-old from Rockville. They gathered in a conference room, they would recall, as a prosecutor led them through the proceeding ahead. Buzbee had pleaded guilty days earlier to three of the rapes.
Then the fourth woman arrived, dropped off by a detective who had picked her up at her hotel lobby. “You’re the one from California,” one of the trio said warmly as the 52-year-old physical therapist walked in.
By 11 a.m., the four had made their way up to the courtroom. Joined by two friends, the six sat together, close enough to touch a shoulder, whisper words of encouragement.
Buzbee, wearing blue jeans and a denim shirt, came in. He showed no emotion, sat down at a table and folded his hands.
His attorney, Brian Shefferman, said Buzbee has been an exceptional inmate while earning college degrees behind bars and working in a prison print shop. Shefferman urged Judge Nelson Rupp to allow the parole board to one day do its job and consider whether to release Buzbee.
Then the victims rose to speak.
“I want to unequivocally state that what the defendant did to me and women in Montgomery County — in his teens and continued until he was caught in this 20s — was indescribably evil,” the tax lawyer said.
About 7:35 p.m. on April 14, 1977, the woman, who was then 23, was walking home when Buzbee jogged by, turned around and attacked from behind. He covered her mouth, pushed her beside a house, took off his shirt and wrapped it around her head. He threatened her with a knife, raped her, stole $20 and fled. The woman ran to a nearby house and at the time thought she was calm.