Nearly two years after the slaying of an elderly Leesburg couple, their daughter is asking the public for clues that might help police solve the crime that she called "the first thing we think of each morning and the last thing each night."
In a letter released Friday by the Leesburg Police Department, Carol Mohammed pleaded on behalf of her family for someone to come forward with a tip that might lead to an arrest in the deaths of Francis and Lillian Beland.
"It has now been two years since this horrific crime took place and the tension of not having answers to who committed this act nor why they did so is devastating," Mohammed wrote. "To verbalize the pain that lives in each of our souls from the tragic loss of such wonderful people is impossible."
On the morning of Oct. 28, 2002, police discovered the Belands' bodies after neighbors called authorities to say they smelled smoke coming from the couple's condominium on Fort Evans Road. Francis Beland, 75, had been stabbed in the chest, and Lillian Beland, 71, had been asphyxiated. Both had been beaten, police said. Police said they think that they were attacked the previous night and that the killer set a fire to cover up the crime.
Police have investigated about 200 leads and released portions of an FBI profile describing the killer. But the case remains unsolved, a fact that torments the Belands' three children, Mohammed wrote.
"I want to ensure the person or persons responsible are caught and never allowed to harm anyone again," Mohammed wrote. "Having the person[s] brought to justice will never undo the void that has been left in our hearts. It would help our family knowing that no other family will have to endure the pain of the loss that we have felt over the last two years."
According to the FBI profile, the killer might have a criminal record, an erratic work history and a reputation for bullying. The profile said he also might have a tendency to blame others for his problems and "lacks what would be considered normal empathy or concern . . . for others."
Police said that robbery might have been the killer's motive. Lillian Beland's diamond ring was missing, but police have not determined why someone would target the couple.
"It just made no sense whatsoever," said Capt. Clagett Moxley. "There was just not one thing that we could find where they had developed any hostilities toward anyone in the community."
The Belands -- Frank and Lil to friends -- were avid travelers who retired in Leesburg to be near Mohammed. Francis Beland was known as funny and reserved; Lillian Beland was famous in the family for her cherry cobblers. Both were voracious readers.
"My parents were reasonable, happy people who wanted nothing more than to visit with their family and take occasional trips," Mohammed wrote. "Anyone who knew them, especially my mother, simply wanted to remain in the warmth of their spirit and enjoy their company."
Moxley said the case is the Leesburg Police Department's "number one priority" among violent crimes. He said two detectives continue to track leads and investigate the case with other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. Police will distribute wanted posters around Leesburg this week in hopes that someone will call with the break they need. Even the smallest detail can help, Moxley said.
"We've seen things made on less than that," he said.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Police Department at 703-771-4500. Those who want to remain anonymous may call the Leesburg Crime Line at 703-443-8477 or Loudoun County Crime Solvers at 703-777-1919.