The mystery of how the bodies of two men ended up inside the trunk of a car in Southeast Washington deepened yesterday as the second victim was identified as Harvey L. Sumner, a 58-year-old Temple Hills resident who had been reported missing last month.
D.C. police detectives were scrambling yesterday to find a connection between Sumner and the other victim, James L. Harris, 65, a District man who also had been reported missing by family members.
As of last night, investigators had yet to find a link. They said the motive behind the killings appears to be robbery but declined to elaborate.
"We're trying to make a timeline," said Lt. David Jackson of the D.C. police violent crimes division. "We're looking for some kind of nexus between" the two men.
The badly decomposed bodies of Harris and Sumner were found in the trunk of a stolen red Buick LeSabre about 12:45 p.m. Monday in the 4600 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Investigators believe the men might have been in the car for about 10 days.
Police had to use dental records to confirm their identities and were awaiting autopsy results.
Harris, a jazz enthusiast, former labor organizer and civil rights activist, was last seen by his family about 12:30 a.m. May 25 as he left his ex-wife's home in Upper Marlboro to drive to his apartment in the 1800 block of U Street SE, family members said.
They said they reported him missing the next day after noticing that his BMW was gone, and his apartment lights were on.
Authorities recovered the silver 1984 BMW on Interstate 295 on May 28, police said.
According to Prince George's County police, Sumner was reported missing May 24 by family members who could not contact him.
Neighbors told police they had last seen Sumner in front of his two-story brick house in the 5500 block of Keppler Road in Temple Hills on May 22 or 23, authorities said.
Sumner's house appeared to have been "entered and ransacked by someone," according to a Prince George's police news release.
Two cars, a silver Acura and a Hyundai Sonata, were missing from his neighborhood and later recovered in Oxon Hill, police said.
Neighbors said Sumner owned one of the cars and had borrowed the other from the car dealership where he worked. A manager at that dealership, Pohanka Hyundai in Marlow Heights, declined to comment yesterday.
Sumner's relatives could not be reached yesterday.
Harris's daughter and ex-wife said they did not know Sumner.
Harris's family members complained yesterday about the police response in the days after they reported him missing. They said they were forced to print up their own fliers seeking help his disappearance.
"It was hard for us in the first few days," said his daughter, Makeda Harris. "I was given a runaround."
Police said they are offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect. They urged anyone with information to call 202-727-9099.
Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.