The body of 15-year-old Alexander Eugene Sztanko of Manassas, who disappeared after leaving home to ride his dirt bike Saturday, was found about two miles from the spot where police believe Sztanko's suspected killer may have buried a second boy more than 10 years ago, sources said.
Michael Carl George, 32, of the unit block of Burton Loop in Hartwood, Va., was arraigned and held without bail yesterday pending a July 17 trial on a murder charge in Sztanko's death. George, a computer operator, was arrested on a trespassing charge a short time before the body was found on the south side of Cardinal Drive in Woodbridge, between Interstate 95 and Route 234 near Beau Ridge Estates, police said.
Police said Sztanko's body was found about 1:40 p.m. about one-half mile from where he was last seen taking off alone on his motorized bike from his family's former home. His mother, Gail Sztanko, said the boy had left to join friends.
He was found shirtless and shoeless and apparently died of a gunshot in the head, acquaintances of his family said.
The site where Sztanko was found is a short distance from the spot where police believe 8-year-old Larry W. Perry, of Dumfries, was buried after he disappeared the night of May 22, 1979.
George pleaded guilty Feb. 23, 1984, to charges of involuntary manslaughter and abduction in the Perry case, telling police the boy accidentally shot himself to death with George's gun after he took the boy into dense woods off Dumfries Road near I-95 in southeast Prince William County.
At the time of his trial, George said he had panicked and buried the body in a ravine.
George was originally charged with murder, abduction and failing to provide medical care in the case, but was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge because the evidence against him was so sketchy that a murder conviction was unlikely, said Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert.
"We agreed to the plea agreement in the middle of the trial," said Ebert. "The body was not found. He said the boy shot himself. We did the best we could with no body and no physical evidence."
According to court records, George was arrested on a trespassing charge Sunday afternoon, shortly after Cpl. Scott Dillon of the Prince William County police saw him walking east on Cardinal Drive, in the area where police rescuers were searching for Sztanko's body. Police sources said George was found in the woods near Sztanko's tennis shoes by a bloodhound named Jeb, who was helping a Spotsylvania County sheriff's deputy participating in the search.
A 1989 Ford Bronco belonging to George had been seen by Dillon at 3:15 p.m. Saturday across the street from where Sztanko's body was found Sunday. The car, which police said was impounded and searched, was parked in the same area Sunday, records show. Police would not reveal whether anything was found.
A search warrant also was served yesterday at George's Hartwood home. Police said several items were confiscated there but would not give details.Police continued to search yesterday for Sztanko's green Kawasaki dirt bike and his helmet. Two shirts that police believe Sztanko wore when he left home on Saturday have been found, police said.
Family and friends of Sztanko's reacted angrily to the news that the suspect had been involved in another boy's death.
"I think this is certainly a clear example of a judicial system that is inequitable when a white-collar criminal gets stiff penalties of up to 25 years in prison but a man convicted of a crime against an innocent child only does 2 1/2 years," said Gail Sztanko, Alexander's mother.
In June 1984, George was sentenced to five years in state prison in the Perry case, but he was paroled after serving about 2 1/2 years, law enforcement officials said.
Fielding Lewis, chief probation and parole officer in the Fredericksburg office, which supervised George's parole, said defendants rarely serve their entire sentences. "They kept him as long as they could," Lewis said. "On a five-year sentence, if a person gets in no trouble while he is in prison, he is eligible for parole in 10 to 12 months."
Hartwood residents who live near the house where George lived with his parents said they did not know Michael George well, in part because the family lives on a secluded wooded road.
Neighbors said they usually saw George, whom they described as polite and "a nice guy to talk to," in the company of his brothers.
George was employed until his arrest as a $20,000-a-year night-time civilian computer operator at Quantico Marine Base, said Quantico spokesman Robert McLean.
McLean said a check of George's personnel records indicated that he did not reveal his involuntary manslaughter conviction in 1984, nor a petty larceny conviction in 1978. Sources said George also had a petty larceny conviction in 1988.