A District woman charged in the strangulation of a Prince George's County woman was ordered held without bail on a murder count yesterday as homicide detectives continued searching for two other female suspects in the case.
Karen Blue, 46, was arrested by D.C. police Thursday at her father's house in the 4400 block of Fifth Street NW, authorities said. She agreed not to contest extradition to Maryland and appeared yesterday in Prince George's District Court.
She is charged with one count of first-degree murder in the slaying of Denise Mansfield, 45, whose body was found in early June in the living room of her Mitchellville home, several days after authorities believe she was killed.
Mansfield ran a computer business and worked as an accountant out of her home on Forest Lake Terrace in the Lake Arbor subdivision. Police said that there were no signs of forced entry and that she apparently had allowed her assailants into the home.
Blue was identified after police released copies of photos taken by a camera at an automated teller machine a few days after Mansfield's death. They show three women separately withdrawing cash, moments apart, with Mansfield's ATM card at Watkins Park Plaza, near Mansfield's home. The two other suspects remain at large.
"The arrest is a positive first step," said Charles Mansfield, the slain woman's brother. "The family feels it is positive that one of the individuals has been identified. However, we are hoping that the others will be identified and sufficient evidence would come forward to bring this case to justice."
Denise Mansfield often invited clients into her home and sold computer equipment over the Internet.
"Denise was a very intelligent person, but when you are running a business out of your home, you have to take some risks, I guess," her brother said.
D.C. Superior Court records show that Blue pleaded guilty to attempted possession of cocaine in November 1997. She was sentenced to six months in jail, but the sentence was suspended and she was given one year of probation. Police sources said she is the mother of at least two children but does not have custody of them. She has most recently lived in the 1000 block of Abbey Place NW and works occasionally as a custodian.
Several weeks ago, the community association in Mansfield's neighborhood began circulating the pictures of the women at the ATM in an effort to help police identify suspects. The group also urged Mansfield's neighbors to donate money to the county police department's Crime Solvers program.
"Although you may not have known Denise, her brutal and still unsolved killing is a crime against the entire Mitchellville community and it is our responsibility to do all we can to see that her killer or killers are brought to justice," read an e-mail from Greg Lofting, a member of the Lake Arbor Community Association's safety committee.
Charles Mansfield praised the neighbors. "I applaud all efforts and everything the community can do to publish those pictures so that we can get some feedback to the authorities," he said.
Sharrarne Morton, president of the community association, said the group decided to reach out to residents to re-energize public interest in the case. "I'm relieved there has been a break in the case, and hopefully this will give some closure to the victim's family," she said. "We are hopeful the police will continue and apprehend the other suspects."