Because of an editing error, an article in yesterday's editions incorrectly said that Cpl. Bruce Gentile, a Prince George's County police spokesman, said the county has more poverty than other Washington suburbs. Gentile said Prince George's has more low-income residents than other suburbs. (Published 7/1/87)
Sometime before dark on Sunday, Bonnie Gaye Lloyd and Castley Lloyd Scott, described by police as drifters, entered a vacant apartment to spend the night in an area of Langley Park well-known for illicit drug sales.
By 9:15 p.m., Lloyd was dead. The 25-year-old woman was the latest victim in a mushrooming homicide rate in Prince George's County that has claimed 42 lives this year, 55.5 percent more than the 27 reported during the same period last year.
And like many of the county's homicides so far this year, police suspect that Lloyd's death is related to drugs.
The number of killings in the county climbed from 42 in 1984 to 52 last year. So far this year there have been almost as many killings as in all of 1986.
"Right now," said police Cpl. Bruce Gentile, "we are at a loss for an absolute motive," in the Lloyd killing. Police believe Lloyd may have been the innocent victim of the area's drug violence. "The area is a known corridor for narcotics transactions. PCP, cocaine, marijuana . . . in one form or another, they all show up in that area," Gentile said.
The problem of drug-related crime has been the most striking in the District, where police reported recently that more than half of the 95 slayings there through mid-June were drug-related, compared with about one-third during the same period last year.
Prince George's police attribute the rise in drug-related slayings, in part, to a spillover effect from the District. "The county's population is more dense inside the Beltway, and our crime rate generally rises the closer you get to the District line," said Gentile, who added that the county also has more poverty than other Washington suburbs.
"An increase in drug-related murders will explain a majority of those cases," Gentile said. "Even in what we typically call a 'domestic,' if the person who commits the homicide is high on PCP, that is a drug-related crime. But this is not unique to Prince George's County. D.C. and most of the country have experienced an upswing in drug-related murders."
Three of the 1987 Prince George's homicides were among the five young women, found strangled or stabbed or both last winter in a wooded area north of the Suitland federal center. Police believe that these deaths were drug-related.
Other fatal shootings resulted from arguments over small drug sales or money owed through drug transactions. Still others came about because of turf battles between middle-level drug dealers, police said.
"There is money, large sums of money, to be made in illegal drugs," Gentile said. "It appeals to the greed in people."
Scott, 25, told police that he and Lloyd were sleeping in a rear bedroom of a third-floor apartment at 1410 Kanawha St. when two armed gunmen burst into the room and fired at them, Gentile said.
Scott, who was treated for a gunshot wound to the elbow at the Prince George's Hospital Center and later released, told homicide detectives that a friend had lived in the apartment until earlier this month but had paid rent through the end of June, Gentile said. The friend had given Scott permission to stay there Sunday night, he said.