A Capitol Heights teenager initially arrested in connection with a single robbery has been linked to two unsolved slayings, a sexual assault and nine other armed robberies in a month-long crime rampage targeting immigrant neighborhoods, Prince George's County prosecutors said yesterday.
Anthony James Cole, 17, was indicted by a county grand jury on 139 criminal counts, stemming from 12 incidents between Aug. 15 and Sept. 12, prosecutors said. All of the victims were immigrants.
"The suspect in this case is alleged to have preyed on some of the most vulnerable members of our society, new Americans, new Prince Georgians," State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said in a statement, describing Cole as a "one-kid-crime-wave."
Ivey praised the work by detectives with the Prince George's and Riverdale police departments, who pieced together physical and circumstantial evidence that he said ties Cole to the crimes.
Confronted with that evidence, including shell casings and a victim's debit card found in his room, Cole confessed to the homicides and the sexual assault, authorities said. He provided written statements, and his interviews were videotaped, officers said.
In addition, Cole has made incriminating statements in nine armed robberies, most of them committed at gunpoint by an assailant wearing a mask, authorities said.
"Hopefully, we saved some lives by taking him down when we did," said county homicide Detective Kerry W. Jernigan, who obtained Cole's statements in the homicides and the sexual assault. "I think he certainly would have preyed on more people if he hadn't been taken down."
Most of the crime victims were Latino, Indian or African immigrants who were attacked in Riverdale, Landover Hills, Langley Park and Bladensburg, officials said. Cole once lived in the northern Prince George's area and was familiar with those neighborhoods, which are home to many immigrants, said one investigator involved with the case.
Cole was first arrested Sept. 12 on a warrant for a robbery for which he has not been indicted, officials said. He was interviewed by Jernigan on Sept. 15.
Prosecutors believe Cole was committing violent crimes until the day of his arrest.
About 2 a.m. Sept. 12, Cole approached a Latino couple as they were entering their Prince George's home, officials said. At gunpoint, Cole forced the couple into the home and took $50 in cash and a debit card from the woman, according to police reports.
Authorities said Cole took the woman into the kitchen, where he sexually assaulted her. The woman fought back, hitting Cole with a glass bottle. When her boyfriend went into the kitchen, Cole shot him in the arm and then ran away, officials said.
Later that day, county police served a search warrant on the Capitol Heights home where Cole lives with his parents. In Cole's room, Detective Josie Perdomo found a debit card belonging to the sexual assault victim, officials said.
Police found more evidence: The shell casing from the scene of the sexual assault matched shell casings from a Sept. 9 slaying in Riverdale and a Sept. 5 homicide in Bladensburg, police said.
About 9:30 p.m. Sept. 9, Ricardo Jimenez Santa-Maria was in a parking lot, handing money to a female relative, when an assailant approached, brandished a handgun and demanded money, officials said. Jimenez Santa-Maria stepped between the woman and the assailant, at which point he was shot in the chest.
Authorities said Cole took $475 in cash from the woman and ran away. Jimenez Santa-Maria was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead.
About 4:30 p.m. Sept. 5, an armed man held up four people at gunpoint in the 3900 block of 53rd Place in Hyattsville, officials said. When Baudillio Ramos Osorio tried to run, he was shot in the back and killed, authorities said.
Cole, who is being held without bond, is charged with three crimes that carry possible life sentences and faces hundreds of additional years for the other offenses. He is being held without bond pending a Jan. 14 hearing and is being represented by the public defender's office.
Cole, who turns 18 next week, will be tried as an adult.