The body of a 6-year-old girl was found yesterday behind a neighborhood drug store in Landover, and a 15-year-old youth, who allegedly lured her away from her home, was charged with murdering her.
Angela Spriggs and her 7-year-old brother walked away from their apartment at the huge Stratford Woods apartment complex in the 7200 block of Landover Road Wednesday evening with the youth, whom they knew as a former neighbor, according to Prince George's County police. The youth then sent the little boy back home, took Angela behind a nearby Drug Fair and killed her, police said. He then hid her body and left, according to police.
The child was reported missing late Thursday, police began a search of the area and the body was discovered yesterday. An autopsy was scheduled to determine the cause of Angela's death and whether she had been molested.
The suspect, whose name was withheld because he is a juvenile, was charged with first-degree murder and was in custody last night.
Angela's father Charles, a laborer at the Washington Navy yard, said last night that the teen-aged boy accused of killing Angela had been a neighbor of the Spriggs family for years at their previous address in the Kennedy Woods apartments in District Heights.
"I can't believe it, after knowing this boy," Charles Spriggs said. "We've known him for two or three years. I just can't figure out why. When we lived in District Heights, our house was just like theirs."
Another one of Angela's relatives, many of whom gathered last night at the Spriggs' home, said she saw the youth accused of the killing meet Angela and 7-year-old Thomas Spriggs as they got off their school bus Thursday afternoon after the trip home from the Beacon Heights Elementary School.
According to Charles Spriggs, who pieced together the details from young Thomas's account, the events of the afternoon unfolded this way:
The youth hurried the children back to their garden apartment, where only the Spriggs' two other young children were at home. The teen-aged boy then left his bicycle at the apartment, and walked off with Angela and Thomas, promising to buy them some candy at a nearby 7-Eleven store. As they walked along, the youth was punching Angela and she began to cry, but still accompanied him. Before the three left the apartment complex grounds, the youth told Thomas that he had lost his money and asked the boy to go back and look for it. Thomas did, and when he returned to the spot where Angela and the older boy had been, they were gone.
The elder Spriggs said that a little while later the older youth returned to the apartment without Angela and picked up his bicycle. Spriggs and his wife Ada came home soon after, became concerned about Angela's whereabouts and called police. A police investigation and their own frantic search for their daughter then began.
Spriggs said Angela, a first-grader at Beacon Heights Elementary School, was "shy . . . the type of girl who would go to her grandfather's house and just stay one day. Then she'd get to crying and whining and wanting to come home." He said the only reason Angela would have gone with the youth was because she knew him from their former home, where he said the boy "had always been welcome."
Police arrested the youth yesterday after learning that he had been seen with Angela Thursday.
Under Maryland law, a hearing will be held to determine whether the youth may be tried as an adult on the murder charge.