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Police pursue leads in case of slain American University professor

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 26, 2010; 10:22 PM

Montgomery County detectives were pursuing leads in the case of a slain American University professor but by late Tuesday had not linked the 18-year-old found driving her stolen Jeep to her killing, officials said.

Deandrew Hamlin was seen in the sport-utility vehicle in the District late Monday, about 13 hours after the professor's body had been found in her home. Hamlin led police on a chase and was injured when the Jeep crashed.

It was unclear whether he had obtained the car at the professor's house. He was charged in the District with unauthorized use of a vehicle and felony fleeing.

Hamlin remained hospitalized Tuesday but was expected to be released by Wednesday morning, said Montgomery Assistant Police Chief Drew Tracy.

"We've got multiple people working on it," Tracy said. "What we have to do is put all these leads together, look where the forensics take us, and then make a decision from there on charging."

Police were called to Sue Ann Marcum's home in the 6200 block of Massachusetts Avenue shortly before noon Monday. Her body was found on the lower level of her redbrick home, about two miles northwest of the District. Detectives found signs that someone had broken into the home and struggled with Marcum.

Tracy said evidence indicated that at least one intruder had entered Marcum's home.

As the investigation began Monday, police issued a lookout for Marcum's Jeep Cherokee.

Shortly before midnight, the Cherokee passed one of the District's license-plate recognition sensors, which are programmed to alert police to stolen vehicles. The sensor transmitted a message to police dispatchers that the Jeep was in the area, officials said.

Officers went to Benning Road and tried to stop the Jeep, said Istmania Bonilla, a D.C. police spokeswoman.

The officers chased the Jeep, but the driver tried to get away. The Jeep crashed into a crosswalk signpost at New York Avenue and M Street NW, Bonilla said. Police identified the driver as Hamlin, of Northwest Washington.

His family could not be reached Tuesday.

Marcum's neighborhood, about half a mile from the Glen Echo fire station, is not typically associated with crime. Theresa Barlow, who lives next to Marcum's house, said she hasn't been burglarized or robbed since moving in in 1973.

Police received reports of 34 burglaries through September in Marcum's police patrol area, although no data were available for the same period last year.

For the full Bethesda police district, police had received reports of 225 burglaries through September, based on preliminary figures, said Cpl. Dan Friz, a police spokesman.

That compares with 296 burglaries in the first nine months of last year and 378 for that period in 2008, according to police data.

At American University, students continued to mourn Marcum, 52, and recalled her energy and devotion.

"She made me want to go to accounting class," one wrote on a Facebook tribute page. "I didn't even know that was possible. She was always making everyone laugh. I don't know how I am supposed to finish this semester of accounting without her."

"I hope you rest in peace, Professor Marcum, you were great and I cannot believe something so horrible would happen to someone so wonderful," wrote Deep Master.

Master said in an interview that Marcum made accounting interesting, such as when she recalled her career as a tax director for Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey. "I just remember the different business strategies she presented to them," he said.

Staff writer Debbi Wilgoren contributed to this report.

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