Prince William County police said yesterday they believe that an unidentified Southeast Asian man found strangled on an embankment off I-95 near Quantico Marine Base Sept. 19 may have been killed as part of a gang war.
Police are circulating reward posters with photos of the dead man in Washington-area Vietnamese neighborhoods and have taken out advertisements in Vietnamese-language publications.
Prince William Det. William Metheny said police have few leads and are uncertain about the motive for the crime. "Nothing's been ruled out. Anything you offer could be a possibility," including a gang killing, Metheny said.
But police sources said that one detail suggested gang involvement. Pieces of skin had been cut away from four fingers of the dead man's left hand, and police said they think the missing skin may have contained a series of tattoos. The shape of the incisions, made below the middle-finger knuckles, suggested that the tattoos may have spelled out the date "1961," Metheny said.
The sources said some Asian gang members proclaim their loyalty by having tattoos inscribed on their bodies.
Metheny said he believed that the skin was cut away by the killer and could have been done to foil identification.
Police said they believe the man was killed elsewhere and his body dumped from a vehicle.
The man, in his 20s, clad only in a button-down shirt and underwear and believed to be Vietnamese or Cambodian, was found by a passer-by near the northbound ramp to I-95 from Rte. 619, a half-mile from the Marine base, Metheny said.
County police are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to identification of the body, he said.