Voice Mail Points to Boyfriend, Police Say

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

As her life ebbed, Maris Wilkerson named her live-in boyfriend as her killer in a phone call, placed either intentionally or by accident, and he implicated himself with a brutal retort, Prince George's County prosecutors and police allege.

The exchange was captured in a voice mail to an auto parts store in San Diego, according to police charging documents and two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.

Wilkerson's cellphone placed a call to the auto parts store shortly after midnight June 26, about the time investigators think she was fatally shot by her live-in boyfriend, Aaron D. Spriggs, in or near the Upper Marlboro home they shared. According to charging documents, a woman is heard to say in the message, "I don't want to die, Aaron."

The woman's breath sounded labored, according to the two sources, who asked that they not be identified by name because the investigation is continuing.

A male voice responded, "Die," charging documents allege. The two sources said the more complete response was, "Hurry up and die."

Some rustling is heard on the message, and then the woman's voice, which authorities say is Wilkerson's, is not heard again, the sources said.

The male, alleged to be Spriggs, is then heard calling out to Wilkerson's dogs.

Investigators do not know whether Wilkerson intentionally placed the call in an effort to get help or to record what was happening, or whether the call was placed unintentionally when Wilkerson fell to the ground, the two sources said.

Wilkerson had previously called the auto parts store to make a purchase, the sources said, so the number might have been redialed inadvertently.

About 27 hours after authorities think Wilkerson was shot, Spriggs called county police and reported her missing. Spriggs told police that he and Wilkerson had argued that night after she found him with another woman and that she had left the home, in the 9600 block of Meadow Lark Avenue. Spriggs told police that Wilkerson had taken her cellphone, charging documents state.

Police searched the home and found the cellphone, the documents state.

Wilkerson's body was found July 7 near a road in Aquasco, a rural area south of Upper Marlboro. An autopsy determined that she had died of gunshot wounds.

Spriggs was charged with first-degree murder Thursday, and a District Court judge has ordered him held without bond. Spriggs is being represented by the public defender's office. Brian C. Denton, the county's chief public defender, declined to comment.

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