Charles N. Silcox, indicated three months ago for the murder of an Arlington couple, has endured a summer of tranquilizers, nervous rashes and nightmares about prison. Today Arlington prosecutors are scheduled to announce at a press conference that all charges will be dropped against him for lack of evidence.
Commonwealth's Attorney Willaim S. Burroughs has told Silcox's attorney, Albert J. Ahern Jr., that upon consideration of all evidence, including a lie detector test administered last Friday, he no longer felt he had a case against Silcox.
"I feel like my whole life has been handed back to me," Silcox said yesterday after having been informed of the decision by Ahern. "I'm walking around 16 feet in the air."
The last three months, Silcox said yesterday, "have been pure hell for me." He has had to seek medical attention for his nerves and sell belongings to pay for medical and legal expenses.
Silcox, a district manager of the Door Store in Northern Virginia, was indicted last June 7 on seven counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, use of a firearm and robbery in connection with the slayings of Alan W. Foreman and Donna Shoemaker.
The two were found shot to death May 8 in Foreman's yellor Jaguar in the garage of his home at 1201 N. George Mason Dr., Arlington.
Two other men indicted at the same time for the murders still are scheduled to stand trial. Richard Lee Earman next Monday, and Joseph N. Martin on Oct. 31. Both men have maintained their innocence.
The indictment of Silcox was "just one of those unfortunate things" that stemmed from "a terrible set of circumstances," Ahern said when contacted by a reporter yesterday.
Silcox, 32, was the beneficiary of Foreman's $56,000 life insurance policy. Prosecutors have alleged that Foreman and Shoemaker, his fiancee, were killed in order to cash in on the insurance policy. Martin is the New York Life agent who sold the policy.
Silcox said yesterday that he never knew Foreman or Shoemaker. Nevertheless, he said, he lent $500 to Foreman through Martin. Martin was a friend of Silcox's and said Foreman needed the money for a real estate venture Silcox said. He said Martin had explained that Foreman was a good investment risk and would return a quick profit of 100 per cent - $500 - to Silcox. Foreman, 26, was a real estate agent for Town and Country Properties, Inc.
About the same time, the second week of February, Silcox was made beneficiary of the insurance policy. He did not know about it until several days later, Silcox said yesterday.
"I was told that it was Foreman's idea," Silcox said. "If someone wanted to take out an insurance policy, it's none of my business. I said OK. I didn't think anything was ever gonna happen anyway because he (Foreman) was such a young guy."
When he read about the killing of the couple in May, Silcox said, he went into shock, and then voluntarily contacted police. He did not find out that he had been indicted until a reporter called him at home to get his reaction. "I don't believe this," he said at the time. "I think this is some kind of joke."
The indictments, Burroughs said at the time, were the result of a monthlong investigation by the country police department's robbery-homicide division, which conducted more than 100 interviews.
Part of the reason for the confusion about Silcox according to informed sources, were contradictory statements given by the three defendants.
Ahern said yesterday he had held numerous meetings with Burroughs, maintaining that Silcox's involvement was nothing more than poor judgment, and that Burroughs became convinced after the latest lie detector test.
Burroughs' change of mind, Ahern said, was "a very decent thing to do. You can imagine emotional strain on a person who is indicted for first-degree murder and he knows he had nothing to do with it."
"It's been on my mind day and night," Silcox said. "It's cut off my social life. I couldn't concentrate on my job." His employers, he said gratefully, kept him on the payroll and gave him their full support.
"It was embarrassing because my friends wanted to talk about it and ask questions, but my attorney advised me not to say anything about it," he said. He said he woke up many times "with nightmares of going to jail for the rest of my life and never proving I'm innocent."
Silcox has been free on $10,000 bond since the indictment. He will lose the $1,000 deposit despite the dropping of the charges.
Silcox grew up in Toledo and decided to settle in the Washington area after leaving the Air Force at Andrews Air Force Base in 1966. He has worked for The Door Store for five years.
The ordeal, he said, has helped him find out who his friends are, "Some of them stood behind me 100 per cent. Others said maybe we shouldn't associate till this is all over. Those are fair-weather friends. They're not friends anymore."
Yesterday Silcox's colleagues brought him a bottle of champagne and they celebrated. He said he is not bitter.
"You would think that someone who had been indicted would have ill feelings toward the D.A., but I have none. This guy (Burroughs) is paid to think dirty and that's the only way he'll catch people guilty of crimes.
I'm glad he's human and realizes a mistake has been made. I'd like to walk up and shake his hand."
A prosecutor's decision to drop charges after an indictment is not an unusual development in criminal law, according to legal specialists, and may occur for a number of reasons.