Prince William County prosecutor Paul Ebert yesterday released a composite drawing of a man he called a "major suspect" in the execution-style murders of three woman in Dale City, a crime he said has police "still perplexed."
However, he said illegal drug dealing "may" have been a motive in the killings and that the murderer could have ties to some organized criminal activity. The prosecutor would not elaborate, except to say police have no evidence that any of the victims was involved in drug traffic.
Ebert said the suspect, a man in his late 20s with curly reddish or brownish blond hair and a medium build, was spotted driving away from the trailer where the women were killed, on June 24, the day fo the crime. Police have said the women were each shot once in the back of the head sometime between 4 and 6:55 p.m. that day.
The suspect, wearing a white and green stripped pullover T-shirt with a collar, was driving a dark green subcompact car with a hatchback and white bucket seats, Ebert said.
A witness driving past the trailer, which served as a sales office for a Ryland Homes subdivision noticed the suspect pulling away from the trailer and turning around at the dead-end of Dale Boulevard, Ebert said. The suspect did "something that stuck out in the witness's mind," Ebert said.
The prosecutor would not say yesterday what the suspect did nor would he identity the witness. In a press conference, where Ebert frequently refused to confirm information released last week by county police, the prosecutor made an appeal for citizens and "members of the business community" to increase the $5,000 reward that has been offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in what police have described as the worst crime in the county's history.
The Prince William County Board of Supervisors last week authorized a $1,500 reward and Ryland Homes, a large Washington area home construction firm that employed one of the murdered women, has put up another $3,500.
Ebert said a reward of between $10,000 and $15,000 would be a "considerable inducement" for a person involved in underworld culture" to volunteer information about the murders.
Ebert said police have found no evidence that any of the women were sexually molested. He said that one of the victims, Sharon Lake, a 25-year-old school teacher from Dale City, was found with her T-shirt pulled over her head and her 'back exopsed."
All three victims were found lying face down side-by-side in the trailer. Ebert said that none of the bodies bore signs of struggle.
Ebert said it was logical to assume there is some connection between the suspect seen driving away from the trailer and housing sales "contact card" filled out on the day of the murder with a phony address and phone number and found by police in the trailer.
The trailer where the murder took place was impounded last week by county police. Sales of the 100 homes that were to have been built on an excavated site nearby have been stopped, according to Fred Betz, area sales manager for Ryland Homes.
"In light of the tragedy, we are now considering not building any of the homes," Betz said. Ryland Homes has an option to buy the land on the edge of Dale City near where the murder occurred, according to Betz. He said that slow sales before the murder and adverse publicity since has forced Ryland Homes to rexonsider the land purchase.
Found dead in the trailer were Lake, her friend Deborah Warner Frank, 23, of Alexandria, and Karen Rose Scarbrough, 17, of Falmouth, Va., who was working on the first day of her first job since graduating from high school.