D.C. police searching the apartment of one of three suspected rapists killed during a police chase Thursday have found evidence linking the men to 25 recent crimes in the city. In addition, Prince George's authorities said yesterday the men are suspected in 30 other robberies and several rapes in the county.
Investigators searching the apartment at 1924 D St. NE found it strewn with stolen goods, including tennis rackets, purses, necklaces, bracelets, watches and a new automobile tire and rim. They also found credit cards, bank cards, travelers' checks and cameras. Many of the items bore the identities of victims in a series of car thefts, robberies, abductions and rapes, which one police official described as a "three-man crime wave."
Police said the identified seized goods had been stolen from victims in 15 rapes and 10 robberies committed in the city since mid-December. Many seized items remain to be identified and it will be days before that process is complete, officials said.
Investigators are continuing to examine crime reports in the belief that dozens of other crimes may eventually be linked to the men through physical descriptions and patterns in their activities. Authorities said they also are investigating the possibility that a fourth man may have been involved in the crimes.
D.C. police acknowledged yesterday that they had been searching since late December for several men believed responsible for a series of apparently related rapes and robberies. Authorities said they had considered announcing publicly that a pattern of abductions and rapes had developed in the city, but decided not to do so in order to protect women who had already been victimized from possible retaliation by the rapists.
The three suspects were killed about 3 a.m. Thursday when the stolen car they were driving was spotted by police in Northeast Washington and they attempted to flee. They led police on an 80 mph chase that ended just over the District line in Prince George's County. The car drove off Kenilworth Avenue, struck an embankment, hurtled 50 feet through the air over a creek and plunged upside-down into the bank on the other side. The men allegedly had been involved in several robberies and rapes the night they were killed.
Deputy Chief Alfonso D. Gibson of the D.C. police said two of the dead men, Michael Anthony Newman, 19, and Maurice Edward Butler, 30, had lengthy criminal records as adults and juveniles. The third man, Andre Quinard Redrick, 18, is believed to have been driving the car at the time of the crash.
All three men had separate addresses in Northeast Washington. Police said it appeared, however, that they had been living together in Butler's apartment at the D Street NE address. Police said they believed all three men were unemployed.
The three bodies pulled from the demolished Toyota that landed in the Joseph Smith and Sons Inc. junkyard beside Beaverdam Creek were wearing the kind of ski masks that had become the signature of robberies and rapes committed in the area since mid-December.
In most of those cases, women driving alone were followed until they stopped to park their cars. They were then robbed, abducted and raped by men wearing ski masks. Most of the rapes took place between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Police said the first such case was reported around Dec. 18. Within a week, several more rapes were reported and police recognized that a pattern was developing. Several investigators from the department's sex and robbery squads were detached full-time to try to apprehend the rapists. Some of the abductions and rapes were committed in Prince George's County, and police there joined D.C. authorities in the search.
Capt. Edwin E. Fry, head of the sex crime branch, said officials had considered announcing the pattern of rapes, but decided that concern for the safety of the victims outweighed concern for others. There was a possibility, Fry said, that the men might seek the victims out, using addresses on personal belongings they had stolen.
"There should be a concern for past victims," said Police Chief Maurice T. Turner. "But the public needs to be alerted also when something like this is occurring."
Turner indicated he was confident that police concerns for public safety had been relayed to residents through the department's normal contacts with neighborhood civic leaders.