A 73-year-old man was found yesterday morning beaten to death in his Forest Heights home, the victim of an apparent robbery, Prince George's County police said.
Investigators said several rifles were missing from walls and a display case in the two-story brick house on Cree Drive. The victim, who had lived in the house for about three decades, was an avid hunter, police and neighbors said.
Police identified the man as Hermann Haiss. Family members became concerned when they could not reach him Tuesday night and went by his house yesterday morning, police said. When they arrived, they discovered Haiss's beaten body, said Cpl. Diane Richardson, a police spokeswoman.
The family members called police, who found Haiss lying "in the lower portion of the house," said Cpl. Kim Brown, another spokeswoman. The house had been ransacked.
Haiss was the county's 153rd homicide victim of the year. Police said last night they have no suspects.
Detectives said they did not know whether the assailants forced their way into the house or Haiss let them in.
Haiss lived in the home with a woman who was out of town when the killing occurred, according to investigators who did not want to be identified because the case is open. They said Haiss raised his children in the house.
The home is on a grassy hill in the middle of a narrow street in Forest Heights, which has a population of 2,600. The town covers less than a square mile near the Potomac River and the District line.
Neighbors spoke of holdups, home invasions and car thefts on the street in recent years.
Mario Espinoza, 55, who also lives on Cree Drive, said Haiss was the victim of a holdup on his street about nine months ago. The thieves approached him with a knife and stole about $20, Espinoza said.
"He went door-to-door telling us what happened to him," Espinoza said in Spanish. "He was telling everyone to be very careful."
Espinoza said his car and his license plates have been stolen from his house since he moved there three years ago. He said Cree Drive, a narrow street bordered by woods, has few streetlights and can be dangerous at night.
Betty Bryan, 82, whose front door faces Haiss's front door, said she would frequently see him tending to his yard. She also would occasionally see him leaving the house with his gun case.
"I'm so saddened by this. I'm a wreck," said Bryan, who has lived in her house with her husband for 50 years. "He was just out working on his yard this week."
She said her children grew up with Haiss's children and went to the same schools.
Bryan mentioned another couple a few doors away from the Haiss home who were victimized by a home invasion several months ago. The assailants broke in, tied up the couple, stole some items and left, Bryan said.
"I'm crushed that these things are happening in this community," she said. "It makes you want to jump up and run, but where would you go?"
Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.