Slaying Site One of Many Used to House Former Addicts

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Fairfax County apartment building where Genevieve "Gini" Orange was killed last month has also quietly housed recovering alcoholics and drug addicts for years, including the man accused in her death, Mark E. Lawlor.

But the Prestwick Apartments, a six-story building on Leesburg Pike near Seven Corners, is one of many places where the county's Alcohol and Drug Services places recovering addicts in transitional housing as they emerge from rehabilitation and back into the community.

Fairfax leases 84 apartments in complexes across the county in which clients are placed, and it provides intensive support services to thousands more clients, said Pam Gannon, director of planning and site development for Fairfax ADS.

Lawlor, 43, might have landed at the Prestwick last year. Court records indicate that in mid-January he was "in transitional housing in Falls Church" and working at a Safeway there while being monitored by ADS. But Lawlor was not a client of Fairfax ADS last month, when Orange was beaten to death, said Peggy Cook, residential services manager for ADS. Because of privacy restrictions, she would not say when Cook left ADS supervision.

When Orange, 29, did not appear for work Sept. 25, police were sent to her apartment, where they found her dead. An autopsy determined that she had died from blunt head trauma that left "circular markings," possibly from a hammer, court records show.

Police also found DNA at the scene that was not Orange's, according to a search warrant affidavit. The DNA information was placed in the statewide databank and "found to be consistent" with Lawlor's, who also worked at the Prestwick as an assistant property manager, police said.

Lawlor was arrested Wednesday afternoon and charged with murder. His DNA information was in the databank because in 1999 he pleaded guilty in the abduction of his ex-girlfriend from her Great Falls home and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Lawlor's record since his March 2004 release from prison shows he was continually treated for drug and alcohol abuse and mental health problems. Twice, he violated his probation and was re-incarcerated for short periods, most recently in July 2007. But by the fall of 2007, he was back in a Fairfax ADS program called "Steps to Recovery," had maintained sobriety and kept up with treatment, and was placed in transitional housing, according to a January court update. Cook said that transitional housing typically involves staying with two other men, regular group and individual counseling, drug testing, help with money management and a gradual return to the community.

Gannon said Fairfax leases apartments in the Prestwick and has done so for more than five years. "We lease all over the county," she said, adding that placing recovering addicts in regular housing, with ADS support, "helps people stay involved in their community."

Chris Anastasio, a Prestwick resident, said he was a graduate of Steps to Recovery and moved from a county apartment in the building to another one with his wife. He said other recovering addicts had lived in the building for years and that he was not aware of any causing any trouble.

The 310-unit Prestwick has been owned by Berkshire Property Advisors of Boston since December, according to land records. Berkshire issued a statement saying the Prestwick had "historically been a very safe place."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company