Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported that St. Aubin was shot. He was beaten to death. The story has been corrected.
Two young men were slain in a 24-hour period in Montgomery County, a violent stretch in a jurisdiction that generally has fewer than 20 murders a year.
The slayings occurred 11 miles apart, and police do not think they are related. Both victims were found outside in the cold — James Allen Frazier, 21, dying from at least one gunshot wound in Germantown at 10 p.m. Tuesday, and Marc Taylor St. Aubin, 23, dead Monday night outside the Norbeck area home where he lived.
Police said that St. Aubin was struck or beaten to death and that he probably had some association with his attackers. Police released few details about the Frazier homicide.
As of Wednesday evening, police had not made arrests in either case. They did not comment publicly on a possible motive in either killing.
Friends and family members recalled both men fondly Wednesday. St. Aubin, who had worked at a store that sells pet fish and as a cashier at a restaurant, loved snowboarding and, as one family member said, was more interested in others’ happiness than his own. Frazier was a happy-go-lucky person known to sneak up behind others just to tweak their ears.
But both men had had run-ins with the law.
St. Aubin was charged in 2010 with possession of oxycodone pills. The case was dropped after a judge placed him in a drug-abuse education program, according to court records.
Frazier was charged in January with riding in a car with an open can of Coors Light and telling an officer who pulled the car over that his name was Jose Gonzales. He’d earlier pleaded guilty in a burglary case, according to court records.
“He was trying to do better,” said his father, Norman Frazier, standing outside the Rockville home where he lived with his son. “He was a good kid.”
On Tuesday, Norman Frazier said, his son had gone to Germantown to see a friend. What happened next is unclear. But at 10:01 p.m., 911 operators received a call about a shooting in the area of Drumcastle Court.
“I heard this loud ‘boom, boom,’ ” said Debbie Oehmann, 64, an area resident. “My dogs started barking.”
Chresten Yakoub, 17, who also lives nearby, said she saw a person on the ground near Frederick Road and Oxbridge Drive. “People were trying to shake him and wake him up,” she said.
Swarms of officers arrived. They found James Frazier suffering from at least one gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.
Frazier was born in Gaithersburg, court papers say. As a teenager, he worked as an apprentice at a shoe repair shop.
“He had a good personality, and people responded to him,” said Dan Pegnato, manager at Fortuna’s Shoe and Luggage Repair in Bethesda. But Frazier “didn’t want to do this kind of work,” Pegnato added. “We were not the right fit for him.”
In 2012, Frazier was accused of breaking into a Gaithersburg house and stealing more than $1,000 in gold jewelry, charging documents state. He pleaded guilty to burglary, served a brief stint in jail and was placed on two years of supervised probation.
Norman Frazier said his son had recently started doing some contracting work and was spending more time with his 1-year-old daughter. “He was trying to do the best he could with what he had,” his father said.
A little less than 24 hours before James Frazier was shot, 911 operators received a call about a shooting along Laughlin Lane, a winding street of about a dozen large, high-priced homes off Norbeck Road, about one mile east of Georgia Avenue.
Officers found St. Aubin, a renter at one of the homes, dead in the driveway. A short time later, police learned that another man had been dropped off at a nearby hospital, suffering from gunshot wounds. Detectives determined he had been wounded during an altercation at the home where St. Aubin lived.
Detectives were expected to interview the patient, but it was unclear Wednesday whether they had done so. Police have interviewed other people who were inside the house at the time of the crime.
“We believe there was some association between the victim and the people who committed the crime,” said Capt. Paul Starks, a police spokesman.
St. Aubin graduated from Rockville High School in 2008 and attended classes at Montgomery Community College but didn’t graduate, according to family members and school officials. He worked at a restaurant and as a salesman at Congressional Aquarium in Rockville.
“He was always trying to make people happy, to make them laugh,” said his sister, Shelby St. Aubin, 20. “He cared about other people’s happiness more than his own.”
She described her brother as a quiet, helpful person who visited his grandmother daily and helped her with chores after his grandfather died recently. He also was an avid snowboarder and skateboarder.
Shelby said she last saw her brother when she was home over Christmas break, and they caught up on the usual things — school and work. She said relatives are struggling to understand the circumstances of his death. “I don’t know who he was living with or anything about that house,” she said.
A man who answered the door at St. Aubin’s parents’ home Wednesday declined to comment.
At Congressional Aquarium, owner Jay Wilkie said St. Aubin had started at the store about a year ago, but he declined to talk much further. “I think everybody is upset,” Wilkie said.
A neighbor of St. Aubin’s parents, who asked to not be named, said the young man loved fishing and built outdoor ponds.
“He was a nice, sweet kid with a big heart,” the neighbor said. “I’m at a loss as to what happened. It is so unclear.”
Peter Hermann, Dana Hedgpeth and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.