Suspects posed as Pepco workers before robbing and killing man, police say

July 14, 2011

Two men posing as Pepco workers robbed and fatally shot a Bowie laundromat owner inside his home Wednesday, police said.

The men — John F. Haston, 46, of Clinton and Craig S. Brooks, 49, of District Heights — have been arrested and charged with robbery and first-degree murder in the death of David W. Williams, authorities said Thursday. Williams, 44, was found fatally wounded at his home in the 13200 block of Livingstone Endeavor Drive just before 1 p.m. Wednesday, police said.

A relative returning home saw the men leaving the house and called police, said law enforcement sources familiar with the case. Officers found Haston, who was wearing a blue utility uniform, and another man near the scene, authorities said. They arrested Brooks on Thursday morning and are still looking into the third man’s involvement.

The incident occurred in an upscale subdivision known as Fairwood. Yellow crime-scene tape still surrounded the victim’s yard Thursday morning, an odd scene in the normally quiet neighborhood.

Police said robbery appeared to be the motive. Haston and Brooks made off with buckets of coins and other cash from the laundromat business, according to law enforcement sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly on the matter and could be disciplined for doing so.

Investigators think Brooks and Haston targeted Williams because they knew about his money from the laundromats and other sources. Williams was convicted on a federal counterfeiting charge in 2007 and taken off supervised release in connection with that case early last year, court records show.

He was also convicted in the early 1990s on a drug-distribution charge, although investigators do not think the robbery-slaying was drug-related, according to authorities and court records.

Efforts to reach Williams’s relatives were unsuccessful Thursday. Michael Bennett, 59, an employee of Williams’s No Rulez Laundry business on Martin Luther King Jr. Highway in Glenarden, said he did not know Williams personally but called him a fair and hardworking boss.

Williams owned three No Rulez Laundry businesses in the area, Bennett said. “He worked all the time — I mean, constantly, constantly, man,” Bennett said. “He’s a good guy. . . . I still can’t believe it.”

Bennett said he is not sure what will happen to the laundromats, but he and other employees hope Williams’s family will keep them open.

How Haston and Brooks knew Williams — and why a robbery became a killing — remains unclear, authorities said. Efforts to reach the suspects’ relatives were unsuccessful Thursday.

Lt. Tammy Sparkman, a Prince George’s County police spokeswoman, said Williams was home alone at the time of the shooting. She said investigators found no signs of forced entry into his home, although it was unclear whether Williams invited his attackers in — thinking they were utility workers — or if they made their way inside as he opened the door.

Residents should be wary of supposed utility workers going door to door, Sparkman said, and call police or Pepco’s customer service line if they are suspicious.

Also Thursday, police identified the man found slain Wednesday in an industrial area near Cheverly as Leeson R. Samuels, 35, of Adelphi.

Samuels was found dead Wednesday morning in the 2300 block of 51st Place. A law enforcement source said his body appeared to have been dumped there. Cpl. Henry Tippett, another police spokesman, said police have no suspects in the case, and investigators are still trying to determine where Samuels was killed.

Staff researcher Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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