The body of an 8-year-old New Carrollton boy, reported missing Wednesday night, was found early yesterday morning about two blocks from his apartment building. Prince George's County police said the victim, Brian Zippert, apparently had been strangled.
Police said the boy's shirt was missing. As of last night they said they had no motive, and no suspect. Police asked that anyone who saw Brian after 8 p.m. Wednesday call the homicide bureau at 967-5600.
Brian's parents, Heinz G. Zippert, a carpenter, and Elizabeth Zippert, who works at the Pentagon, are separated, police said, and the boy lived with his father, a brother and two sisters in the Carrollan Gardens apartments at 5446 85th Ave.
Police spokesman Robert Law said Heinz Zippert reported his son missing about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. The father told police that Brian had last been seen about 8 p.m., playing outside the apartment with his brother, Michael, 9, and several other children. Michael went inside the building for about 15 minutes, and when he returned, Brian had disappeared, Heinz Zippert said.
Police searched the neighborhood and knocked on doors until 1 a.m., and resumed the search about 8 a.m. yesterday. A short time later, a friend of the Zippert family, who was helping in the search, found Brian's body on a wooded hill a few yards behind the Kim Apartments near the Conrail tracks, Law said. Neighbors said young people often drink beer in the wooded area there.
Beverly Hillyer, who lives in an apartment near the Zipperts, said her 8-year-old daughter, Ke'ona Jackson, played kickball with Brian and his brother Wednesday night. Hillyer said that Ke'ona told her she last saw Brian alone, facing 85th Avenue, when her mother called her in at about 8 p.m.
Neighbors said Brian, a second-grade honor roll student at Matthew Henson Elementary School, was very well behaved and rarely wandered beyond the immediate vicinity of his apartment building.
Gordon Kroll, who has been the maintenance man at the apartment development for 15 years, said he heard several children at a nearby playground calling for Brian about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. "The kids very seldom go beyond that playground except to go to the school bus," Kroll said.
Several residents of the area said they tend to be cautious because people frequently move in and out of the apartment complexes, and strangers often walk through the neighborhood from the nearby New Carrollton Metro stop.
"It scares me . . . I'm going to keep my kids in the house," said Aurora Romero, 34, who lives across the hall from the Zipperts. She said her children often played with Brian.
"You keep your eye on your kids and your car . . . . there are people always snooping around here who don't live here," said Elizabeth Clark, who has a 10-year-old son. Her husband, Richard Clark, said he or his wife have driven their son to school most days since the boy was beaten up by older children several years ago.
When the yellow school buses rolled into the apartments area yesterday afternoon, many parents came out to escort their children home.