D.C. police arrested a second man last night in connection with the shotgun slaying last week of Paul F. Smith, top financial officer of the Gethsemane Baptist Church here.
The suspect, identified as Marvin Cleo Williams, 26, of 4218 31st St., Mount Rainier, was charged with felony murder after he was questioned by homicide detectives at police headquarters, officials said. He was being held last night without bond pending arraignment today.
On Tuesday, a 24-year-old deacon of Gethsemane Baptist, Louis B. Sawyer of 6522 Dover House Rd., Upper Marlboro, was charged in a D.C. Superior Court warrant with felony murder in the slaying.
Sources close to the case said the arrest of Williams followed a police investigation into allegations that Smith, 62, was the victim of a murder-for-hire plot that was arranged late last year, about the same time Smith told police he suspected Sawyer of taking church funds.
Police said Williams, whom they described as an acquaintance of Sawyer, is employed as a private security guard with Security Inc. of Bethesda.
Sources close to the investigation said early today that while as many as three persons may have been involved in the purported scheme to kill Smith, they believe that the actual slaying was carried out by two. Smith was apparently abducted in or near his car after he left a meeting at the church late Thursday night, and he was found shot to death the next day in Rock Creek Park, police said.
Neither a murder weapon nor Smith's 1975 blue Granada had been recovered early today, police sources said.
Sawyer was arrested and charged with forgery in Montgomery County Monday after a clerk at the I. Magnin clothing store in White Flint Mall alerted security guards that a man was trying to buy shirts using a credit card issued to Smith. The next day, D.C. police obtained the warrant charging Sawyer in Smith's slaying.
Police sources said that clothing costing about $1,000 was purchased with Smith's credit card Friday before his body was identified and the credit card company was notified that the card was missing.
Sawyer was being held on the forgery charges in the Montgomery County Detention Center last night in lieu of $100,000 bond.
Yesterday, meanwhile, several hundred persons filled the red-brick sanctuary of Gethsemane at Fourth and Hamilton streets NW to pay final respects to Smith.
During a three-hour long funeral service, dozens of friends and relatives took their turn at Smith's flag-draped coffin to eulogize him as a loving and caring man and a devoted Christian.
The Rev. Charles Bennett, senior pastor of Gethsemane, said after the funeral service that he became minister at the church about three years ago and at that time Sawyer was a student at Virginia Union College and attended services occasionally.
Sawyer had since become more active in the church, Bennett said, and served as a deacon, a job that entails visiting members who are sick and helping to formulate church policy. Bennett said he had been told that Smith believed money was being taken from Sunday collections between the time the money was counted by church deacons and transferred to the church's financial office.
The church usually collects between $8,000 and $10,000 a week in its morning services and the amount Smith believed was being taken was about $150 a week, Bennett said. Police sources said Smith, who was responsible for all the church's financial records, had been investigating possible thefts from the collections for about a year.
Smith had told police and some church officials of his suspicions in recent months. About the same time, beginning in mid-December, the tires of Smith's 1975 Ford Granada were slashed seven times -- virtually every weekend. In each instance, the car was parked in front of his house and was the only car on the block that was vandalized, police said. In a Jan. 26 report to police, Smith said that the only weekend the tires were not slashed was when he parked the car about four blocks from his house.
It was unclear last night when Sawyer might be returned to the District. Montgomery County officials said D.C. police had placed a detainer on Sawyer, meaning that he would be held for District authorities should he post bond there or if there was a resolution of the forgery charges.
Police and court officials said that Sawyer could be transferred to the District temporarily and then returned to Maryland to face the charges there. In some instances, officials said, there is an agreement between prosecutors to drop the lesser charge to allow trial on the more serious offense, which in this case is the District.