A 25-year-old Washington man was convicted yesterday by a D.C. Superior Court jury of assaulting five women in their Northwest Washington homes between September 1980 and April 1981--all while he was free on bond on burglary charges.
Quinton V. Wheeler, described by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Hall as a "one-man reign of terror," was arrested and released on burglary charges once before and once during the string of assaults, most of which occurred in the Crestwood neighborhood.
He was stopped and questioned by police in Crestwood on four separate occasions, but was not arrested on the assault charges until his last victim, a policeman's wife, was able to identify him.
Wheeler, of 4418 14th St. NW, was arrested and then released on charges of burglary and petty theft from an unoccupied home at 1727 P St. NW on July 21, 1980. His only criminal record was for shoplifting in 1975 and receiving stolen property in 1973, according to court records, and he was freed on personal recognizance pending trial on the new charge.
The first assault for which Wheeler was convicted yesterday occurred on Sept. 25, 1980, and the second Oct. 2. He arrested at the end of October on charges of burglarizing another home, and a D.C. Superior Court judge again released him pending trial on that charge.
The other attacks for which he was convicted occurred after the second arrest and release: in November and December 1980 and in April 1981. In the last incident the victim later identified him, and he was arrested and charged with the assaults. He has been held in D.C. Jail on $50,000 bond since that arrest.
The occasions on which Wheeler was stopped and questioned by police occurred between January and April 1981. According to their testimony during the trial, police officers said they stopped him after they saw him looking into houses or garages or wandering about through the Crestwood neighborhood "casing" houses, Hall said in his closing arguments in the seven-day trial. None of the officers had clear grounds to arrest him.
Several area residents also testified that they too had spotted Wheeler roaming through their upper Northwest Washington neighborhood between Rock Creek Park and 16th Street NW, where four of the five assaults occurred.
Another Superior Court jury convicted Wheeler March 11 of the two burglaries. He faces up to 31 years in prison on those two incidents. He also faces a sentence of at least 15 years to life as a result of his conviction yesterday on a variety of burglary, rape and assault charges in connection with the five attacks.
Judge Fred B. Ugast said he will sentence Wheeler on June 7 on all the charges. In addition, Wheeler faces charges in yet a sixth assault and robbery in the Crestwood area, in an incident that occurred in the same seven-month period.