MARYLAND

Fire Destroys Montgomery Farmhouse

A vacant 109-year-old farmhouse considered a historic site in Montgomery County was destroyed yesterday in a fire that investigators think was intentionally set, authorities said.

The Chichester House, at 4400 Olney-Laytonsville Rd. in Olney, was engulfed in fire about 10 a.m. and is considered a total loss, said Capt. Denise Pouget, a spokeswoman for the county Department of Fire and Rescue Services. No one was injured.

Pouget said arson investigators noted that a chain-link fence surrounding the house had been tampered with and that beer cans and other items showed that people had been there recently.

Shooting Victim Tests Positive for Drugs

Preliminary autopsy results show that a Laurel man who was fatally shot last month by a Prince George's County police officer tested positive for cocaine and heroin, police said yesterday.

Howard Robinson III, 27, was shot twice in the upper chest by Cpl. Brian Rumsey on June 28 after Robinson allegedly pulled out a five-inch knife and fought to avoid arrest during a traffic stop in front of his home in the 9400 block of Muirkirk Drive, police said.

The shooting remains under investigation by Prince George's police.

Man Gets Life for Role in Carjacking

A Brandywine man was sentenced in Prince George's County Circuit Court yesterday to life in prison without parole plus 20 years for his role in a slaying during a 1998 carjacking.

Circuit Court Judge William B. Spellbring Jr. sentenced Donnie Dawayne Comber, 26, to life without parole for the Sept. 13, 1998, slaying of Brently Jayson Youmans, 31. Youmans was gunned down after he stopped to help his attackers, who acted as if their car had broken down, prosecutors said.

In May, a jury convicted Comber of first-degree felony murder, a weapons violation and conspiracy to commit robbery. Prosecutors said Comber did not shoot Youmans but participated in the robbery and drove Youmans's truck to the District after the slaying.

THE DISTRICT

Murder Suspect Arrested in California

A man sought in the death of his former girlfriend after she was found in a hotel room in Northeast Washington has been arrested in California, officials said yesterday.

Walter McCollough III, 37, was arrested Sunday morning at an apartment in Upland, Calif., said Sgt. John D. Moore, a watch commander at the Upland police department.

D.C. police had obtained a warrant charging McCollough with murder in the death of Pamela Marie Collins, 34, of the 7900 block of Glenarden Parkway in Lanham. Police said she had suffered blunt force trauma to the head.

McCollough had pleaded guilty in 1995 to beating and falsely imprisoning Collins. He is the grandson of Bishop Walter "Sweet Daddy" McCollough, who had led the United House of Prayer for All People.

VIRGINIA

Israeli National Charged in Spy Case

A 53-year-old Israeli national has been charged with trying to export spy equipment to Vietnam, where, he told an FBI informant, it could be used by the Vietnamese government to collect intelligence, according to documents filed this week in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

Shalom Shaphyr, who has a business visa that allows him to live in the United States and who maintains homes in Vancouver, Wash., and Portland, Ore., was arrested Tuesday in Alexandria after trying to buy restricted computer intercept equipment from undercover FBI and U.S. Customs Service agents, authorities said.

According to assertions made in papers filed in court, the equipment is designed to covertly receive the electromagnetic signals radiated by computers--which could include those dealing in sensitive or classified material--and then reproduce the data.