THE DISTRICT

4 Charged in SE Grandmother's Death

A D.C. Superior Court grand jury yesterday charged four young men--three of them teenagers--with second-degree murder in the death of Helen Foster-El, a Southeast Washington grandmother killed by stray bullets in a June 21 gun battle behind her home.

Each of the four men fired shots during the gunfight, prosecutors contend. Foster-El, 55, who had no connection to the dispute that sparked the gunfight, died in the 100 block of 56th Place SE while protecting children from the flying bullets, witnesses said.

Gunfighters "must know they will be held responsible for injuries to bystanders that are caused not only by their bullets but also by the bullets fired by other participants," U.S. Attorney Wilma A. Lewis said in announcing the indictment.

Charged in the case were London Ford and Jimmy Shelton, both 18, of Southeast Washington; Derrick Jackson, 19, of Northwest Washington; and Kent Chambers, 21, of Landover.

Ford was also charged with assault with a dangerous weapon for an attack shortly before Foster-El was killed.

Boy, 4, Taken From Home Is Found in NW

A 4-year-old boy allegedly abducted by his father in Canada on July 31 was found safe in Northwest Washington yesterday and taken into protective custody, officials said.

Tyrone Merritt Jr. was reported missing from his mother's home in Ottawa, and the Interpol international police agency enlisted the help of the U.S. Department of Justice and police agencies in eight states where the father had known connections.

Capt. Mark Beach said officers from the D.C. police department and U.S. marshal's office obtained information that Tyrone Merritt, 40, was staying in the 800 block of Allison Street NW.

The father was charged as a fugitive from justice pending kidnapping charges in Canada, officials said.

MARYLAND

Prosecutor Gets More Staff for Tripp Case

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran (D) has agreed to lend some of his staff to State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli for the prosecution of Linda R. Tripp on wiretapping charges.

Montanarelli said yesterday that he seeks assistance from the attorney general's office for most of his prosecutions. He said the help will be used in the Tripp case to handle the flurry of procedural motions, the first seven of which were filed Tuesday by Tripp's attorneys.

"We anticipated there would be a lot of motions. We've started work on our answers," Montanarelli said.

Tripp was indicted by a Howard County grand jury July 30.

She was charged with illegally taping a phone conversation with Monica S. Lewinsky, then a White House intern, and illegally revealing its contents to Newsweek magazine. If convicted, Tripp could face five years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count.

The case has not been assigned to a judge, and no court dates have been set.

THE REGION

Stabbing Victim's Car Found in D.C.

A car missing since an Alexandria man was found fatally stabbed in his home Monday was found yesterday in Northwest Washington's Mount Pleasant neighborhood, officials said.

Ray Heidebrecht's maroon 1999 Isuzu Rodeo was found in the 1800 block of Ingleside Terrace NW. Officers covertly watched the vehicle for about five hours, then impounded it about 9 p.m. to search for possible evidence, said Amy Bertsch, a spokeswoman for the Alexandria police department.

Police have been searching in the Washington gay community for clues to the slaying, leafleting bars Heidebrecht was known to frequent in Dupont Circle and Southeast Washington.