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Fairfax Police Searching for Answers in Triple Slaying

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 21, 2008

Andres Yelicie staggered out of his North Springfield home Wednesday night, trailing blood and pleading for help. He collapsed on the front stoop of a house across the street, bleeding profusely, and could barely blurt out his own name -- "Andy," he said -- before an ambulance arrived to take him away.

But he also told the neighbors that something bad had happened in the brick rambler on Moultrie Road, just south of Braddock Road. And when police went inside, they found two more men, also bleeding heavily from stab wounds in the upper body. They, too, were rushed to the hospital.

All three died. And Fairfax County police aren't sure why.

Terence J. Strope, 38, his brother Ryan C. Strope, 26, and Yelicie, 26, were attacked in the house about 9:40 p.m., police said. They declined to say whether someone broke in or money was taken and whether the men told them what happened before they died. Police are not sure if there was one assailant or more.

"Detectives are uncertain," Officer Don Gotthardt said, "as to whether or not this house was specifically targeted or this was a random act."

He urged residents to use caution and call police at the first sign of trouble.

There have been five homicides in Fairfax in five days. The 16th, 17th and 18th of the year came as the quiet of the Ravensworth Farm neighborhood was shattered Wednesday night by a car alarm. Then came shouting and other chaos, said Carol Green and Ron Lyerly, who live next door to the house where Yelicie collapsed. Lyerly thought the alarm might have been going off in his car, and he was waiting for it to stop by itself.

But "I kept hearing somebody yelling for help," Green said. When she and her daughter looked outside, they noticed a car they didn't recognize parked in front of their house with "what looked like someone crouched down in the front seat."

Green looked to the right and saw her neighbor, Art Norico Jr., yelling for someone to call 911. Green grabbed her cellphone and dialed as she ran to the house next door. Lyerly followed. They saw Yelicie bleeding heavily from what looked like stab wounds to both shoulders, Lyerly said.

"He was lying on the steps," Lyerly said. "He had his head right at the front door. It was just awful."

Norico pressed cloth to Yelicie's wounds and told him, "Hold on, hold on, they're coming." Police dispatchers kept Green and Norico's wife on the line, asking questions that Norico relayed to Yelicie. Green said Yelicie was incoherent beyond saying his name.

Meanwhile, the car in front of Green and Lyerly's home sped off. Soon after, uniformed officers arrived, then an ambulance, and Yelicie was rushed away. Then more ambulances. Then a long night of flashing lights and bewilderment.

Norico said he didn't want to discuss what happened other than to say, "We had an unfortunate and unwelcomed incident last night, in a neighborhood that has been, and will continue to be, a nice family neighborhood."

Lyerly said: "It's scary. It's scary that the guy's still out there."

Terence and Ryan Strope are the sons of Christopher Strope, a retired Arlington County police officer and executive director of both the Virginia Coalition of Police Officers and Sheriff's Deputies and the Maryland Coalition of Police Officers and Sheriff's Deputies. Christopher Strope did not answer requests for comment yesterday.

"Terry was a very good guy," said Steve Setliff, a friend who had visited the house recently. "I think he had his problems, like all of us, but he was not a violent person at all."

Neighbors said that friends frequently gathered at the Stropes' house, which they were renting, but they did not suspect anything illegal. Terence Strope ran a contracting business, Capitol Concrete Solutions.

Dinora Gonzalez, who lives next door, said workers from his business often came by on Saturdays to get paid. Yelicie worked at a credit union in the District. A man who arrived to pick up Ryan Strope for work yesterday said he was a contractor in Tysons Corner.

Terence and Ryan Strope graduated from J.E.B. Stuart High School, where Ryan Strope played in the marching band. "I feel like the world has really lost something special with Ryan's passing," Tanya Morningstar, who was also in the marching band, said.

On the day he died, Yelicie wrote on his Facebook page, "Andres is swamped at work . . . but is loving life right now." Friends said he loved the Washington Redskins, online poker and playing soccer.

He graduated from Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Kamal Azzouz, a longtime friend, said Yelicie was "probably the most humble, laid-back guy I ever met." He said Yelicie had lived with the Stropes for only a couple of months and was planning to move out soon. "He loved hanging out with his friends and family," Azzouz said. "Every time I picture him, I picture him smiling."

Staff writer Amy Gardner contributed to this report.

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