At least 2 people may be involved in D.C. principal's slaying

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 23, 2010

Montgomery County detectives think at least two people were involved in the killing of D.C. middle school principal Brian Betts, based on a witness who reported seeing a vehicle leaving an alley just outside Betts's house.

The detectives "now believe more than one suspect may be involved," Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery police spokesman, said Thursday.

A team of detectives has been following many leads but has made no arrests, Montgomery officials said.

Betts, the principal at Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson, was found dead at his Silver Spring home April 15. He was buried in Manassas on Thursday, a day after 2,000 people had visited a funeral home to walk past his coffin and pay their respects to his sister and parents.

"Mr. Betts was like my parent," one student had written in a card placed near his coffin, "and all the students were all his children."

The vehicle seen in the alley might be a big clue in the case.

Detectives have spoken to at least one person who reported seeing the vehicle at 12:15 a.m. April 15 being driven away from an alley that runs between Betts's home and an Exxon station near Georgia Avenue and Columbia Boulevard. Starks declined to release more details about what type of vehicle it was. "We believe it may be related to the homicide," he said.

Betts's Nissan sport-utility vehicle was found Friday in Southeast Washington, and detectives think the apparent theft was related to the slaying. Detectives have been looking for two people seen walking away from the vehicle Friday.

Betts was alive as of 11:30 p.m. April 14, based on a conversation he had at the time with at least one person, police have said. His body was found about 7:40 p.m. the next day.

Starks wouldn't say whether detectives had determined an approximate time of death. Betts had been shot at least once, and his clothed body was found in a bedroom.

Starks asked that anyone with information about the vehicle in the alley, Betts's SUV or anything related to the case call the department's major crimes unit at 240-773-5070 or CrimeSolvers, which might offer a reward, at 866-411-TIPS (8477).

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