Montgomery County prosecutors say the 29-year-old Norwood told one lie after another to Detective Jim Drewry, fabrications that go to the heart of a dramatic case they are set to present to jurors next week. Norwood, they say, hacked and pummeled a co-worker to death inside the Lululemon Athletica yoga store in downtown Bethesda in March. She tried to cover her tracks, they say, by cutting herself, tying herself up, lying down in a pool of blood on a restroom floor, waiting for police to arrive and saying it was all the work of two masked men.
She eventually encountered Drewry, heading up his final case after two decades with Montgomery’s homicide unit. His style evolved over time from confrontational to a more gentle approach known for getting suspects to do the last thing they should be doing: talking.
“Who wouldn’t speak with him?” said defense lawyer Andy Jezic. “He’s like a shrink, a priest and your trusting uncle all rolled into one.”
Drewry holds a mystique among Montgomery officers, who rattle off the high-profile murders he has worked. He interviewed Beltway sniper John Allen Muhammad, among others. In 1995, he locked up a murder suspect, eight years before doing the same thing to the man’s son.
In his 23 years on the homicide squad, he came to view interviews as an attempt to peel back layers of an onion. On the outside were the lies — valuable in and of themselves. Further in, layers of half-truths, also valuable. At the core was the golden ring: a full confession.
“The main thing in this job is knowing how to talk to people, knowing how to listen to people,” he said. “If you can get them talking, you have a fighting chance.”
Drewry also found that by not changing his expression, and often by not saying anything at all, suspects often felt that they needed to fill in the pregnant pause — by saying more.
Take the case of Raymond Williams. When the handyman became a suspect in the fatal stabbing of artist Azin Naimi in her studio off Rockville Pike, Drewry and another detective, Dimitry Ruvin, brought him in for questioning.
Williams recognized Drewry from an old case.
“I think we met before,” Williams said.
“You helped us out a whole lot on that case. Maybe you can help us clean up a whole lot on this,” Drewry said.
At first, Williams refused to talk, but eventually he turned to face Drewry, who sat at the opposite end of a four-foot table.
“I owe you this much. I really do,” Williams said.
“I’m listening, man, and I appreciate it,” Drewry responded, stone-faced, legs crossed, legal pad on table and setting off a series of 10-second silent pauses.
Williams finally admitted that he was inside the art studio that night.
“You can do this,” Drewry said.
Williams asked the detective if his “girl” would be all right and asked Drewry to pass along condolences to the victim’s family.