By Ernesto Londo¿o and Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Andrew R. Winters was a proud dad.
So proud, neighbors and friends said, that he had recently begun wearing a maroon Marine Corps T-shirt in support of his son David, 18, who just completed boot camp.
That makes the account that Montgomery County police provided yesterday all the more baffling.
Winters, 55, an architect, was found dead in a wooded area near his North Potomac home with several stab wounds on his torso, neck and face, police said. David, who was home for the holidays from Camp Lejeune, N.C., was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after detectives determined that there were too many holes in his story and that there was too much blood on his clothes.
"I know that my dad was proud of him," David's sister Lisa, 23, said yesterday in an interview.
A charging document provides the following account:
David Winters arrived at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville about 10:30 Tuesday night seeking treatment for cuts on the index and middle fingers of his right hand. He told officers, who were called to investigate, that he and his father were attacked while walking in the 11000 block of Darnestown Road, near their home.
"Several men allegedly exited from a wooded area and attacked them," David Winters told police, Detective Gary F. Turner wrote in a charging document. "During the assault, David Winters advised that he managed to escape after being pushed to the ground, but that his father was left behind."
Winters told detectives he ran to the intersection of Muddy Branch and Darnestown roads, where he phoned a friend and asked for a ride. When the friend refused, Winters said, he called his mother, Gustava, known as Gigi.
When his mother picked him up, Winters told her that he and his dad had been assaulted, police said. She drove him to the hospital.
Detectives asked Winters to show them where he last saw his father. Using police dogs and a helicopter to canvass Muddy Branch Park, investigators found Andrew Winters's body in a wooded area.
Detectives saw blood on David Winters's clothes and determined that it probably did not come from his hand wounds, Turner wrote. Investigators also noticed dirt and debris from the woods on his pants.
"The defendant, however, stated to detectives that he never entered a wooded area and that the attack occurred on a sidewalk," Turner wrote. "Throughout the interview David Winters made several inconsistent statements [in] reference [to] the alleged assault and also changed his account of the events multiple times."
Winters was being held without bond yesterday at a Montgomery jail, and he is scheduled to appear before a judge today for a bond hearing. The Winterses have lived in their house in the 14400 block of Rich Branch Drive for almost two decades, and neighbors consider the parents exemplary.
Four neighbors who are close to the Winterses agreed to speak about them, but some did not want to be identified.
A female neighbor said that David Winters struggled academically at Thomas S. Wootton High School in his early teenage years and that his parents transferred him to a specialized school. Kate Harrison, a county school system spokeswoman, said that Winters withdrew from Wootton in December 2004.
He graduated from high school this year and enlisted in the Marines, which made his father immensely proud, neighbors said.
Winters enlisted Aug. 21 and recently completed boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. On Dec. 19, he checked in for the second phase of training as a logistics specialist at Camp Lejeune. He was on leave for the holidays, said Maj. Eric Dent, a Marine Corps spokesman.
David Winters is an avid runner with a lanky build, and he had to work hard to build upper-body strength to keep up in basic training, neighbors said.
His father boasted of his son's achievements, neighbor Richard Wallace said. "I've never seen a prouder parent."
Another neighbor recalled running into Andrew Winters recently as he was mowing the lawn. Winters waved him over to tell him about a letter he had just received from David, and then he spoke about his son for almost 30 minutes.
Andrew Winters operated his company, Andrew Winters Architects, from home. He specialized in high-end, suburban, single-family homes. He was a fixture in the small, close-knit neighborhood and was generally the first to welcome new arrivals, neighbors said.
He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, and he was supportive of Israel, which he visited often. If the family had any troubles, neighbors said, they were handling them quietly. Andrew Winters was his upbeat self on Christmas Eve, when he wished the Wallaces a merry Christmas, Richard Wallace said.
He was wearing the maroon T-shirt with four gold letters across the chest: USMC.
Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.