A 21-year-old Silver Spring woman was under police protection at a Charlottesville hospital yesterday after she was kidnapped from her apartment, left for dead in rural Virginia with a slit throat and targeted for a second murder attempt while in the hospital, according to law enforcement officers.
Investigators yesterday were not only looking for a motive in the bizarre case but trying to figure out exactly what happened to one of two suspects. He is under protective custody at the same hospital with 11 stab wounds.
According to law enforcement officers in three jurisdictions and two states, the story began unfolding sometime after midnight Saturday at Uganda George's apartment complex in the White Oak area of Montgomery County. They gave this account:
Montgomery police got a call about 5 a.m. from a relative of George's who said she was missing from her apartment in the 11600 block of Lockwood Drive, according to Officer George Ludington. About the same time, and about 25 miles south of Charlottesville, Nelson County sheriff's deputies were also getting a call about George.
According to Sheriff William M. Harris, George had crawled to a stranger's house for help, even though her "throat was cut, her windpipe was severed and her stomach was ripped open."
Despite her injuries, George was able to talk and told sheriff's deputies that she had been kidnapped from her Silver Spring apartment after midnight Saturday, bound on the hands, feet, mouth and eyes with duct tape and tossed in the trunk of a rented 1991 Cadillac, Harris said.
She was driven around for several hours and then unloaded from the trunk along Route 29 in Nelson County by two men, one of whom she described as the boyfriend she had broken up with hours earlier.
She told the deputies the tape was removed and the plan to kill her was unveiled.
She said she listened as the men talked about killing her, one explaining to the other where to find her jugular veins. George was then repeatedly slashed and her body was tossed over an embankment, he said.
After the men drove off, George managed to half crawl and walk through the brush, across a field and up a hill to a house, where she pounded on the door for help.
As warrants were being obtained for Marshall A. Jones and Benjamin B. Buckhanan, charging both 24-year-olds with attempted murder, the police department at the University of Virginia was unknowingly becoming involved in the case.
About 6 a.m. Monday, campus police discovered a man stabbed eight times in the back and three times in the abdomen on the Charlottesville campus near the hospital where George was recovering, said Lt. William Morris. A check with local authorities revealed that that stabbing victim had the same name as one of the two men wanted in connection with George's stabbing.
The wounded man, Jones, a District resident, was sent to the hospital and Buckhanan, of Takoma Park, was charged with attempted murder in George's case and felonious assault in Jones's. There are outstanding warrants for both men in Maryland on kidnapping charges, he said.
Police said Buckhanan told them in a statement that after George was attacked, the two men went to North Carolina to see Buckhanan's wife for their anniversary. The men later returned to the site of the stabbing, and finding George gone, tracked her down at the hospital and cooked up a scheme to get inside, police said.
"They decided they needed to get back into the hospital and finish the job," Morris said.
Through their investigation, police determined that the men called patient information and attempted to see George in the hospital Sunday night before being stopped by a security guard. Buckhanan told police that Jones was stabbed as a way to gain entry into the hospital.
Both George and Jones were listed in fair condition yesterday at the hospital, where they were under police guard. George's relatives declined to comment, a hospital spokeswoman said.
While Buckhanan is being held in police custody, investigators are trying to untangle the case. "This thing is something else," said Sheriff Harris.