By Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Police are investigating whether the disappearance of a 28-year-old Capitol Heights man two weeks ago is linked to an incident later in the same day, when armed assailants stormed into his home, bound the occupants with duct tape and ransacked the residence before fleeing with cash, a laptop and other items.
Anthony Nelson, a technician who has worked for Verizon for a decade, has not been seen by his family since he left their townhouse about 6 p.m. Aug. 16, telling his mother that he was going out with friends. Five hours later, two gunmen entered the home and restrained Nelson's mother, aunt and half-brother, Calvin Benson.
"I pretty much figured I was going to die right there," Benson said. "There was nothing I could do."
Benson, 33, said he was able to free himself and lock the door when the gunmen stepped outside, possibly to put stolen items in a vehicle. When they returned, his mother noticed that they seemed to use a key to open the door.
"She thought about my brother immediately," Benson said, speculating that they might have had his brother's key.
Prince George's County police have no specific evidence linking the home invasion, in the 6900 block of Aquamarine Court, to Nelson's disappearance, said Cpl. Clinton Copeland, a police spokesman.
They have classified Nelson's disappearance as a "critical missing person" case. His Mercury sport-utility vehicle was found, but police would not say when or where.
"It appears that foul play may be involved," Copeland said.
Nelson moved to Prince George's soon after his 1997 graduation from H.D. Woodson High School in Northeast Washington. "He's the type of person where, if you met him, that day he'd befriend you enough that you'd hang out with him all day," Benson said.
Claudia Nelson, 57, said she was upstairs in the townhouse, watching the Olympics, when the assailants she suspects might be responsible for her son's disappearance entered the house. "Someone came upstairs with a gun, dragged me down by my hair and told me to get on the floor," she said.
The men searched the house, she said, taking about $400, the computer and other electronics equipment.
"When they went outside with all of the stuff, my son got loose," she said. "When the men came back, they asked where he was, and I said he had gone outside. That is the only thing that saved us."
Claudia Nelson said she decided to speak publicly about the case in the hope that her son will be found. "My heart is heavy," she said. "I had a gun to my head, and my son is still missing. I need some kind of closure."
Benson said he is frustrated that authorities have not moved more quickly to subpoena possible witnesses to appear before a grand jury, a tactic he said could press reluctant witnesses to cooperate. Benson said the prospects that the search will end well seem to be dimming by the day.
"It doesn't look good," he said.
Anthony Nelson is described as approximately 5-foot-9 and 250 pounds. He has brown eyes and black hair. Authorities asked that anyone with information about him call the police department's District III station at 301-772-4901.