Richard Lawton McLeod is in a Prince George's County jail, accused in the slaying of a Bowie school teacher in August on a charge that stemmed in part from evidence provided to police by his mother.

Barbara Bricker, who that month informed on her son, who was then 18, said it was a "moral decision."

"It is an easy thing to do if you discover something about someone you don't know," she said. "But when you are talking about a family member it's completely different. It's not the kind of thing you'd expect."

Bricker, who lives on Peach Walker Drive in Bowie with her husband of 15 years, Bill Bricker, and her two sons, added in a resigned tone, "You just can't ignore it and close your eyes. We would be just as wrong by not saying anything."

While doing her son's laundry on Aug. 15, the 42-year-old mother discovered a pair of red gym shorts with a car wax residue across the middle of them. Two days earlier, Jacqueline Rose Roberson's body had been found under a pile of leaves and twigs in a nearby wooded area along Governor Bridge Road. Roberson had been missing since Aug. 10, when she phoned her mother and said she was going to Allen Pond Park, a popular recreation area, to wax her car.

Roberson's body was found Aug. 13 during a search by about 50 police recruits, detectives and mounted park police who combed the underbrush and trees near the Izaak Walton League Center in Patuxent River Park south of Rte. 50. Investigators also found Roberson's red bandana with a patch of white debris on it, and a can of car wax near the body. The bandana and the can of wax were sent to the FBI laboratory for testing.

Bricker's discovery of the gym shorts bothered her. The same day Roberson's body was discovered, Bricker's son, McLeod, was arrested and charged with first-degree rape in an assault on a 15-year-old Glenn Dale girl. He has since pleaded guilty to that charge and was sentenced to 25 years in prison by Circuit Court Judge Audrey Melbourne.

McLeod, who is now 19, has been in the Prince George's County Correctional Center since his arrest on Aug. 13.

An FBI chemical test on McLeod's red gym shorts showed that the white debris was car wax, according to court documents. On Monday, McLeod, awaiting transfer to a state-run prison, was charged with first-degree murder in the Roberson slaying. Police said yesterday that McLeod had been a leading suspect in the case since his mother had phoned homicide detectives soon after finding the gym shorts. He was denied bond in a hearing yesterday.

Bricker said the past several months "have been very emotional for us and very trying for us as a family. It's just been a bad situation all the way around."

Prince George's County police spokeswoman Carol Landrum said she understands.

"Put yourself in her shoes. You have done everything to raise your son right," Landrum said. "If you believe he is involved in something ghastly, would you want him living in your house?"

Landrum, who runs the county's Crime Solvers program, an anonymous tip line, said that while mothers don't often provide evidence against their children, it isn't unusual.

The medical examiner's report found that the 28-year-old first-grade Ardmore Elementary School teacher had died of stab wounds and had been sexually assaulted.

"You always like to think that these things happen to other people, but they do happen," Bricker said. "You have to deal with it."

Bricker said she has spoken with her son several times since he has been in jail. Bricker said she last spoke with him "several days ago, last week."

"I don't know how he feels."