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Victims' Relative Corners Suspect

Leads in Md. Deaths Ignored, Man Says

By Serge F. Kovaleski
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 27, 2005; Page C01

In two days, Daniel Beverly did what Prince George's County police had failed to do in nearly a year and a half: track down the man wanted in the homicides of Beverly's aunt and uncle.

The couple were slain in August 2003 in their brick rambler in Camp Springs, and an arrest warrant was soon issued for Lonzo Dion Shafer, the victims' nephew and Beverly's cousin. But Shafer remained at large, and family members felt police were not aggressively pursuing the case.

_____Special Reports_____
A Blue Wall of Silence: Pr. George's police have shot and killed people at rates that exceed those of nearly any other large force in the nation.
False Confessions: Documents and interviews reveal that Pr. George's homicide detectives extracted false confessions from four men.

Then, on Feb. 10, Beverly coincidentally pulled up next to Shafer at a traffic light in the District, the first time he had seen his cousin since the slayings. Shafer didn't notice him.

Beverly was able to trace the license plate of the car Shafer was driving to a Hyattsville rowhouse, where Shafer's former girlfriend lives with her two children. Beverly said his family had previously given the woman's name to police, along with other possible leads to capturing Shafer. But investigators had not contacted her.

At 6 a.m. Feb. 12, Beverly and two of his relatives walked into Prince George's police headquarters in Palmer Park. They told officers that Shafer was staying at his former girlfriend's house, just three blocks away.

Even then, getting police to the house wasn't easy.

First, the officers told the family to come back a few hours later because no homicide detectives were available, Beverly said. Then, a robbery detective said it might be better if the family returned Monday, two days later, when more detectives would be available, recalled Garikai Beverly, a son of the victims.

So Daniel Beverly resorted to some trickery.

"That's when I went up to the house and called 911 on my cell phone and said, 'Shots fired' at the address," he said. "I thought it was the only way to get the police to come and arrest Dion. Then a cop responded, and I told him shots had not been fired but that a guy wanted for murder was in the house. Soon, more cops and police dogs showed up."

Shafer was arrested in the back yard of the house as he tried to escape.

Prince George's police spokeswoman Barbara Hamm said the department is conducting a preliminary inquiry into how police handled information from the family. She said she did not know why Shafer's former girlfriend, Jeannette Forde, was not interviewed by police until the day of the arrest.

Hamm said that at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 12, authorities received a 911 call about a fugitive and gunshots at the Hyattsville address. She said officers arrived at the house in the 7600 block of Allendale Circle within five minutes and arrested Shafer about an hour later.

Regarding the family's conversations with police earlier that day, Hamm said the department has determined that a family member told an officer at 10 a.m. that he had new information about the case. She said the officer contacted the detective handling the investigation, who was in the District at the time, and told the officer that he would return shortly and that the relative should wait.

Two or three hours later, Hamm said, another family member told a detective that he knew where Shafer was.


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