Attempted abductions: Manassas City police are investigating three incidents in which a man tried to abduct children yesterday afternoon.

In the first incident, two 13-year-old girls were walking home from Grace E. Metz Middle School near Richmond and Fairview avenues about 3:15 p.m. when a van pulled near them. Police said the driver called to the girls, asking them for directions. When the girls approached the van, the driver grabbed them by their arms. They struggled free and fled, and the man drove away, police said.

Five minutes later, the same van approached a 15-year-old girl on Main Street near Osbourn High School, police said. The driver began talking to the girl, then grabbed her arm, police said, but she struggled free.

At 3:23 p.m., the van pulled up near a group of 3- and 4-year-olds near Main Street and Sandalwood Drive, police said. As the driver talked to the children, a teenager nearby shouted and began running toward the van, which fled north on Main Street toward Old Town.

Police described the driver as a black man in his twenties with a light complexion, thin build, a short afro hairstyle and wearing a black T-shirt. He was driving a maroon or burgundy late-1980s to early-1990s Dodge Caravan or similar model minivan. Newspapers covered the windows, except the windshield and front windows. The vehicle may have had Maryland plates.


Five arrested in slaying: Prince George's County police said yesterday that five men were arrested Thursday in Virginia and charged in the fatal stabbing of 42-year-old Alfonzo Hairston, whose burning body was found that morning at Route 301 and Peerless Avenue in Upper Marlboro.

Police said Michael Stogsdill, 33, and Michael Hancock, 27, were each charged with first-degree murder. Howard Belvins, 57, Ricky Jackson, 36, and Robert Daniel, 33, were charged with assisting in the county's 117th homicide. The men, all from Marion, Va., were being held there last night pending extradition to Prince George's.

Jury award reduced: A civil jury award of more than $3 million for two burglars who suffered an attack by a police dog while they were handcuffed was reduced to $248,000 yesterday by a Prince George's County Circuit Court judge.

On Oct. 9, the Upper Marlboro civil jury found that Cpl. Rosa Guixens acted with malice when she released her police dog on Robert Zimmerman and Robert Andre Simms on a snowy night in January 1999.

The jury awarded Zimmerman $2.5 million for noneconomic damages and $6,000 in punitive damages. The jury awarded Simms $500,000 in noneconomic damages and $2,000 in punitive damages.

Yesterday, Circuit Court Judge Maureen Lamasney reduced the noneconomic awards, calling them "grossly excessive." Lamasney reduced the amount of damages to be paid to Zimmerman to $200,000 and the Simms award to $40,000. She did not reduce the punitive damage awards.


Three guilty of fraud: Three Maryland men were found guilty Thursday of federal charges in a fraud scheme that netted hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of computers, televisions and other equipment from the government, prosecutors said. Luther E. Mellen III, 54, and Philip C. Burroughs, 29, both of Mechanicsville, were convicted in U.S. District Court in Washington of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and receiving stolen property. Jeffrey L. Morgan, 29, of Waldorf was convicted of receiving stolen U.S. property.

Prosecutors said Mellen's wife, Elizabeth, who worked at the U.S. Department of Education, ordered $350,000 in services and equipment that wound up going to her husband; Burroughs, her son; and Morgan, her nephew. Elizabeth Mellen previously pleaded guilty to theft of U.S. property and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

Compiled from reports by staff writers.