Man accused of spraying women with semen 'never had any issues'

By Dan Morse
Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Montgomery County man accused of spraying semen from a bottle onto five female shoppers holds an undergraduate degree in criminal justice, worked as an armed guard at a government installation, trained as a body builder and, until recently, was known for his gentle manners.

Michael W. Edwards, 28, graduated in 2006 from the University of Maryland College Park, according to the registrar's office. He worked for a security firm and had a longtime girlfriend.

"He's never had any issues," his mother, Diane Edwards, said in an interview. "He grew up in the church."

But authorities said that Edwards is implicated in the latest three cases because of video recordings on his cellphone.

Those videos, apparently taken by Edwards, show him spraying semen on the backs of three women inside the Giant supermarket on Muddy Branch Road in Gaithersburg in early July, according to Gaithersburg Detective Patrick Word's signed affidavit filed in court.

Detectives think that Edwards used a small bottle similar to those used to hold portable hand sanitizer. They say he confessed to the incidents, four at the Giant and one at a Michaels crafts store in the Kentlands shopping center dating back to November, according to court records. Detectives have charged him with five counts of second-degree assault and say there might be additional victims.

"We're examining sources and sites to see if there was a subculture he was involved with," Word said. He said he has found no evidence that the videos were posted online.

Edwards, who was being held Saturday on a $50,000 bond, had no criminal record prior to the case, according to police and his attorneys.

"He does have an explanation and an expectation that he is going to be found not guilty of these accusations," defense attorney David Martella said.

Edwards worked for a private firm, Stronghold Security, guarding the front gate and making rounds at the Washington drinking water treatment plant on MacArthur Boulevard, which is part of the Washington Aqueduct, according to court records and Tom Jacobus, general manager of the facility.

"He did his job and brought no attention to himself," Jacobus said.

Edwards cleared a background check before getting his latest job, Jacobus said. After the allegations came to light, he was removed from his duties. There were no indications that Edwards had done anything untoward at the plant.

"We pay a lot of attention to what goes on here," Jacobus said.

Diane Edwards spoke on her son's behalf at a court hearing Thursday and told a judge that she would take her son into her home if he is released. He was living alone in an apartment in Montgomery County at the time of his arrest, according to court records.

Diane Edwards said her son's girlfriend of 10 years has stood with him since the charges were filed. She said that although her son has only been charged, extensive media attention gives the impression that he already has been convicted. "It's very sad," she said. "He can't work."

The case began July 15, when police were called to Giant. Using store surveillance video and other clues, detectives charged Edwards with squirting semen onto a woman as he followed her out of the store.

In that case, and in the case at Michaels, detectives tested clothing worn by the victims -- a skirt from the Giant shopper, a sweater from the Michaels shopper -- and they came back positive for semen, according to court records. In the other cases, detectives don't know who the alleged victims are. They have not stepped forward, authorities say, perhaps because they don't know what happened.

Gaithersburg police ask anyone with information about the case to call 301-258-6400.

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