2 Men Charged in Loudoun Slaying
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Two men with possible gang affiliations have been charged with capital murder in the beating death of a Loudoun County man during a morning stroll with his wife last month, authorities said yesterday. The attack was a "random robbery gone bad," Loudoun Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson said.
Police began to home in on four suspects while executing search warrants in connection with a flurry of burglaries, robberies and assaults in Loudoun. Some suspects appear to be members of or associated with a regional street gang, but it does not appear that the attacks were part of a gang initiation or ritual, authorities said.
Darwin G. Bowman, 18, of Annandale and a 17-year-old male from Sterling were charged with murder in the killing of William Bennett near his Landsdowne home, the sheriff's office said.
Authorities say they are investigating two other men in the Bennett case: Anthony R. Roberts, 20, of Middleburg, who is being held on charges that he burglarized Loudoun Guns on April 15 in Leesburg; and an unidentified 18-year-old from Sterling, who is also in custody on unrelated charges. Neither has been charged in Bennett's killing.
All of the suspects are being held without bond, officials said. Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney James E. Plowman said additional charges are expected in coming days in connection with wounds suffered by Bennett's wife, Cynthia, who was critically injured in the attack.
News of the arrests in the Bennett attacks came as little solace to neighbors, who said they had been on heightened alert since the March 22 attack.
"If it was a random attack, it could happen again," said Agnes McDonald, who has lived in Lansdowne since 2004 and used to walk her dog in the area where the Bennetts were beaten. "We're not very comfortable knowing that."
Bennett, 57, was found dead shortly before 6 a.m. March 22 along Riverside Parkway near Rocky Creek Drive by a sheriff's deputy investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle. The Bennetts had been walking less than a mile from their house.
Cynthia Bennett, 55, was found about 30 minutes later across the road, beyond a bloodied white fence in a muddy ditch. She has been recovering at Inova Fairfax Hospital and was recently moved out of the intensive care unit, officials said.
Simpson refused to identify the gang, saying it was unclear at what level the suspects were involved. He said the suspects were part of a "criminal enterprise" involved in a countywide crime spree in recent weeks.
"They're not complete strangers, but they've been elusive so far," Simpson said yesterday during a news conference near the Potomac Station subdivision where the Bennetts were found.
The men were familiar with the Lansdowne area and were "looking for something to get into," Simpson said. "The Bennetts were just at the wrong place at the wrong time."