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Prince George's boy, 14, charged with murder in slaying of Cheltenham teacher

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 8, 2011; 9:02 PM

A Prince George's County grand jury indicted a teenager as an adult Tuesday on charges that he sexually assaulted and killed a teacher at the Cheltenham Youth Facility a little more than a year ago - at the age of 13.

The grand jury indicted Brian L. Wonsom, 14, on charges of murder, first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense and carrying a dangerous weapon in the death of Hannah Wheeling, 65.

The Washington Post does not name juvenile offenders unless they are charged in adult court.

Wheeling's body was found Feb. 18, 2010, in the snow outside a cottage just beyond the fence of the juvenile facility, where Wonsom was being held. Wheeling was last seen about 4 p.m. the day before administering a test to Wonsom, whose family lived in the Forestville area.

When Wheeling's body was discovered, she was wearing only a shirt and bra, according to court records. She had been bludgeoned and strangled.

Last month, after a hearing that lasted several days, Circuit Court Judge C. Philip Nichols Jr. issued a written ruling saying that Wonsom should be tried as an adult rather than in juvenile court.

In his ruling, Nichols cited concerns for public safety. If Wonsom were tried as a juvenile and committed to a juvenile detention facility, he would have to be released when he turned 21.

During the hearing to determine whether Wonsom would be tried as an adult, Prince George's prosecutors produced expert medical witnesses who said that it would take 10 to 15 years of therapy before it would be safe to release the defendant, Nichols wrote in his opinion.

Wonsom has a record of burglaries, including one in which he allegedly stabbed a woman whose home he had broken into, according to Nichols's written decision.

In the wake of the killing, several Cheltenham workers were disciplined for not adhering to security protocols.

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