Efforts to apprehend two youths who slashed and beat a 7-year-old Aspen Hill boy intensified yesterday as details about the brutality of the attack emerged.
Circulation of composite drawings of two youths who allegedly assaulted Steven Wilson Jr. has prompted dozens of calls to Montgomery County police and a reward has been offered for information. The boy's condition was upgraded yesterday from critical to serious.
The two youths who attacked Steven and left him face down in Turkey Branch Creek "just went crazy with their knives," the boy's aunt said yesterday. Shari Minks said the attackers "went for his eyes . . . . They cut a circle around his [left] eye . . . . There are stitches from his eyebrow all around to his nose."
Minks said doctors don't yet know if Steven's eyesight will be affected. The boy had multiple facial cuts and underwent three hours of surgery Friday night. Minks, who briefly visited her nephew at Children's Hospital, said his face is covered with bandages and stitches. "He doesn't look like a little boy anymore," she said.
In an interview last night, the boy's father, said he had no idea who his son's attackers were or what motivated them.
"I can't think of any cause," he said. "I don't think it could ever be explained in a logical sense."
He said "anybody who knows Stevie, loves Stevie," who he described as a "beautiful, vibrant child, very friendly, very outgoing."
So far, he said, his son, who has recovered consciousness, has said nothing about the attack.
Wilson said he and his wife gave Steven a $10 bill in recognition of the loss of a loose baby tooth knocked out in the attack. He said he told the boy the gift came from the tooth fairy. According to the father, the boy replied: "This must be my lucky day."
Wilson called on authorities with jurisdiction over the area where the attack occurred to clean up trash and debris and undergrowth that shields it from the sight of passersby.
He said the attack on his son was "devastating, but it would be more devastating to have it happen to another child."
Steven was playing with a 10-year-old friend in a secluded section of Turkey Branch Creek, not far from his home, when two youths approached, started laughing and then pulled folding knives from their pockets, said the 10-year-old, who managed to scramble up an embankment to safety. Steven tripped and fell and was attacked by the older youths, the 10-year-old said.
The 10-year-old witness said the youths, believed to be in their teens, had a "sweet, smoky smell" and police Sgt. Harry Geehreng said they may have been high on drugs. Geehreng said police have been working overtime checking out the dozens of leads that have poured in from angry and frightened residents.
A $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the attackers has been announced by Crime Solvers, a privately funded organization.
Giant Food Inc. will contribute to the reward fund, a spokesman for the company said. Debra Wilson, the boy's mother, works as a meat wrapper at the Giant Gourmet store in Rockville.
Residents of the neighborhood just west of Connecticut Avenue were still stunned yesterday by the attack in their heretofore quiet suburban neighborhood.
"We've had mischievous stuff . . . but never anything like this," said neighborhood resident Nick Scholz, 36, who helped carry Steven up from the creek after the assault.
Staff writer Mark Katches contributed to this report.