Potomac Teenagers Lured Man to Fatal Attack, Officials Say

Emily Geller
Emily Geller. (Courtesy Montgomery County Police )
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By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 16, 2009

The two Potomac teenagers charged in the beating death of a Gaithersburg man in May had lured him to a darkened path, where one of them hit him in the back of the head with a shovel, Montgomery County authorities said Thursday.

"This was a planned, premeditated attack," Montgomery prosecutor Gerald Collins said at a hearing for Emily Geller, 18, who was ordered held without bond.

She and her boyfriend, 15-year-old Artie Ellis, who is charged as an adult, conspired to rob 57-year-old Ali Zare, officials said. After he fell to the ground, the two teenagers went through his pockets and then "left him there to die," Collins said.

Geller knew Zare, although authorities have provided no specifics about how they met. Zare, an immigrant from Iran who lived on Apricot Lane in Gaithersburg, had worked as a car salesman. A family member declined to discuss the case Thursday.

Emily Livingston, Geller's attorney in another case, didn't return messages seeking a comment Thursday.

Ellis also remained in custody Thursday. He is expected to have a bond hearing early next week. His attorney, Rene Sandler, declined to comment.

The homicide investigation dates to May 10, when a jogger found Zare's body on the path along the 8300 block of Bells Mill Road in Potomac, between the Georgetown Day Care Center and Bells Mill Elementary School.

Detectives arrested the teenagers Wednesday, the day they found the shovel at Geller's home, authorities said Thursday.

But detectives had zeroed in on the two early in the case, according to court documents made public Thursday. The connection was partially made through a car -- a blue Subaru -- that Zare was driving the evening of May 9, according to police charging documents.

The next day, the Subaru was found abandoned near Seven Locks Elementary School. Two witnesses said they saw a young woman leave the car and run behind the school, according to charging documents.

Geller's fingerprints were found on the car, police said.

Detectives also learned that Zare's Macy's card was used after his death. Surveillance images from Montgomery Mall showed two teenagers who resemble the suspects leaving an ATM.

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