Slaying Suspects Linked to Holdups
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Two of the men accused of killing a young British activist in Georgetown over the weekend had been identified by police as suspects in at least two recent holdups in the area, authorities said yesterday.
Police were far enough into their investigation of those crimes that they had an address to check after the slaying of 27-year-old Alan Senitt: an apartment building on Robinson Place, a dead-end street in Southeast Washington.
It was there, police said yesterday, that the two men were found early Sunday, just hours after the crime -- one still wearing a blood-stained shirt and carrying a card with Senitt's identification. The men, Christopher Piper, 25, and Jeffrey Rice, 22, are among four suspects charged with murder.
New details emerged about the attack, which that took place about 2 a.m. Sunday at 31st and Q streets NW and created an air of vulnerability in one of the city's most affluent areas. In charging documents, police said Rice had told his accomplices before the robbery that he was going to "cut" somebody.
He did exactly that, police said, slitting Senitt's throat as Piper tried to rape Senitt's female companion. The woman, whose name was not released by police because she is considered a witness, was not injured.
After fleeing the scene, the four suspects withdrew money with the woman's bank card, police said. Then they went out to eat at a Wendy's restaurant, authorities said.
"This is one of the most brutal acts I've seen in my 19 years of police work," Cmdr. Andy Solberg said.
He and other officials declined to release specifics about the earlier robberies, saying they were the focus of a grand jury investigation. Police officials said the men were connected to at least two robberies. In one, a stolen credit card was used in an Internet purchase, with the item to be sent to Robinson Place, one law enforcement source said.
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey credited officers from the 2nd Police District who quickly linked the earlier cases and Senitt's slaying. "The officers did a great job," the chief said. "They played a hunch, and it turned out right."
But some Georgetown residents raised questions at a community meeting last night, asking why police had not gotten the men off the streets before the killing.
"I can give you my 100 percent word everything was done within the confines of the law," said Lt. Robert Glover of the police department's violent crimes branch. "We cannot make an arrest without probable cause."
A Jewish activist and an aspiring British politician, Senitt had moved to the United States to study political fundraising and to volunteer for former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner's potential presidential campaign.