On May 1, William Gill, a retired Postal Service employe and father of three children, was visiting a friend's apartment about 5:30 p.m. in South-east Washington when he got into a quarrel with another man. Gill, 53, was fatally stabbed in the chest.
A day later, Albert R. Ballinger, on his regular day off from his job as a stereotyper for The Washington Post, was walking to his Northwest Washington home from a neighborhood drugstore when he was approached by a robber .Ballinger was stabbed to death.
Six days later, Waco Cruz, a 17-year-old student at the D.C. Street Academy, was quarreling with a 16-year-old youth in Northwest Washington. Cruz was stabbed to death.
Gill, Ballinger and Cruz were the first three of 26 homicide victims in the District of Columbia during the month of May. The record is 34, reported in November 1974. The 26 in May are the highest number since last September and February 1976, when there were 28 homicides in each month. In April of this year there were nine micides in the city.
Homicides in the District of Columbia have been declining every year since the high of 295 in 1974. There is no particular pattern, but generally there are fewer than 20 a month.
No one knows why the killings increased so dramatically in May. "I can't explain it" said Lt. Kenneth A. Winters of the homicide squad. "We're busy as hell."
Nevertheless, a number of theories are offered by authorities. "I think it probably has to do with community stress," said Dr. James L. luke, the D.C. medical examiner, who said that studies should be done to determine the reasons.
"I think the economy has a lot to do with it," homicide investigator Otis Fickling said. "A guy works all day and only gets a couple of dollars to show for it. He comes home, gets to drinking and gets violent."
Some investigators blame the gasoline shortage for the five homicides during the Memorial Day weekend. "People get frustrated," one detective said. "They can't go (driving) like they usually go. They get hot-tempered."
Ron Washington, another investigator, said that increasingly teenagers appear to be arrested in connection with murder. "Teenagers want a lot, but they don't have the jobs. The cars are getting prettier. Clothes are getting fancier. And their wants are getting stronger," he said.
Among those arrested in connection with the May slayings are two juveniles who are accused of killing a 33-year-old man during a robbery attempt.
The victims included an assistant apartment manager, a security guard in the D.C. school system, a food service worker at Walter Reed Hospital, two students, two food store owners, a retired roofer, two retired federal employes, a pimp, and a patient at St. Elizabeth Hospital.
Their ages range from 16 to 71.
At least 14 of the victims knew their assailants. Six were stabbed. Fifteen were shot. One was kicked to death. Another was beaten to death and one man died during a fire that wad deliberately set.
Nine persons were killed during heated quarrels. Two were shot during burglaries. Two were the victims of robberies. Four murders were drug-related. The motives in other murders are undetermined.
(The police include in their statistics a case earlier this month in which a woman disconnected the life-support systems of her father, a critically ill hospital patient. A D.C. Superior Court grand jury refused to indict the woman on May 23 in connection with that case, which Medical Examiner Luke has described as a case of euthanasia).
On May 24 at 9:45 p.m., Virginia Bolt, 71 telephoned police to report that a man had broken into her home at 3208 Brothers Pl. SE, and shot her.
Bolt, who had lived there for 30 years despite pleas from her three children that she would be safer living with them, was shot in the chest by the burglar. The burglar, who had entered the house through the back door, fled after taking $15.
Bolt, who rented three rooms of her home to outpatients at St. Elizabeths Hospital, died that night at Greater Southeast Community Hospital.
No one has been arrested in connection with her death.
Two days later, Ocia M. Chamberlain, who lived with her husband, Jasper, and their four daughters in a two story row house at 5107 Anacostia Ave. SE, awakened sometime before 5 a.m. to get ready for her job at Walter Reed Hospital.
Chamberlain, dressed in her white uniform, left the house about 5:30 a.m. to get into her four-door, brown Impala Chevy parked in front of the house. She never made it.
She was found by a passing Motorist on the ground beside the Driver's side of the car.Her purse was still on her arm. She had been shot several times.
She died at 6:35 a.m., at D.C. General Hospital. Police have no arrest or motive in that fatal shooting.
James Ridgely, a 57-year-old mental patient at St. Elizabeths Hospital, was found last Saturday slumped in a corner of the day room in the hospital's Nichols Building. Ridgely, who had lived at the facility for 39 years, had been kicked to death. Another patient has been charged in connection with his death.
Although there have been no arrests in the Chamberlain and Bolt killings as well as six other murders, police have made arrests or issued warrants in 15 other cases.
Another incident being investigated by the homicide squad is the shooting yesterday of a 19-year-old Southeast man by a District police officer. Rodney Darnell Hart, of 2652 Martin Luther King Ave., died after being shot by Officer William R. Haupt during an arrest.
Hart was believed to be the so-called "robber jogger," who may have committed at least 30 street robberies and two homicides in Southeast Washington.
The other deaths investigated by the homicide squad in May are: Theodore Matthews, 30, of 946 Florida Ave. NW; Lorenzo Berry, 25, of 3500 13th St. NW; Alma Adell, 23, of 2345 Green St. SE; Marvin Leroy Elliott, 32, of 5311 Dix St. NE; Benorias T. Webster, 41, of 635 Q St. NW; Wendell E. Hyman, 20, of 813 Olgethorp St. NW; Ronald Miller, 19, of 6904 Toyon Pl., Seat Pleasant; Jeremiah Stephens, 65, of the Republic of Trinidad.
Also Bernard Foster, 33, of 2320 Good Hope Rd. SE, Rosalee M. Kitchings, 47, of 1207 46th St. NE; Chester J. Thomas, 60, of 229 Ingraham St. NW; John Dickerson, 68, of 2301 11th St. NW; Charles McDaniel, 67, of 2112 10th St. NW; Azalee Victoria Surles, 16, of 1301 Seventh St. NW; Anthony Clark, 26, of 1308 Fairmont St. NW; Louis Carter, 42, of 1428 R St NW; Terry Gary, 27, of 918 Palmer Rd., Oxon Hill; Paul Knight, 34, of 3227 10th St. NW, and Agnes Conway, 48, of 1260 Holbrook Ter.NE.