An Oxon Hill couple was indicted yesterday on charges of kidnapping, assault and conspiracy to murder, stemming from a bizarre incident last Wednesday in which they allegedly tortured an 18-year-old neigbor in the basement of their house for more than five hours after a dispute over the purchase of a small amount of marijuana.
The charges against Curtis Hines, 36, a sixth grade teacher in Washington and his wife Vera, 34, a self-employed bookkeeper, carry maximum penalties of two life terms plus three months.
Meanwhile, the victim of the alleged torture, Samuel Williams Jr., was recovering at the Washington Hospital Center from third degree burns over about 10 percent of his body. A skin graft operation scheduled for yesterday was canceled because his recovery has been so rapid in the last 48 hours, according to hospital officials.
Hospital officials said a police guard that had been installed at the hospital after Williams received three threatening phone calls was removed yesterday after no additional threatening calls were received.
Doctors said Williams probably would stay in the hospital about two weeks.
Residents of the quiet surburban section of Oxon Hill said they were still shocked yesterday by reports alleging that Williams was kipnapped by the couple, tied up in their basement, set fire with lighter fuel and told he would be murdered with a meat cleaver or chain saw.
Several neighbors said their children used to play with the two Hines children. But now they are now keeping their children indoors.
Martha Williams, mother of the victim, said her little daughter is "afraid to go outside." She said the Williams family would try to move away from the area.
At 8000 Carey Branch Rd. yesterday, the grass outside the Hines' home was overgrown and at least five little dogs barked unattended on a side porch.
"What they did is a total shock," said one neighbor, I didn't know anyone was capable of that."
"They were hard people to know," said another neighbor, Elsworth Braswell, who lives across the street from the Hines' house. Braswell said the Hineses had lived there for about a year and that their two teen-aged children were in Texas with relatives.
Sylvia Diana Williams, the victim's 20-year-old sister, said her brother used to play table tennis and pool with one of the Hines' children but that the families were not friends.
She said the Hines couple visited her brother last Wednesday morning and while Verna Hines sat in the living room whith her, Curtis Hines searched the house with the Williams youth. Williams' sister said that Vera Hines was dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt, and was barefoot. She said Vera Hines asked about a circular hex sign that was attached to the outside of the Williams house, remarking that it was probably there to warn away evil spirits.
"It didn't work," Williams' sister said sadly yesterday.