Two Washington men free on bond in the alleged rape of a teen-ager arrested Tuesday night and charged in the murders last month of a District of Columbia artist and a Navy petty officer.
The artist, Gloria Whipple, 51 was brutally beaten and kicked after leaving an art class at a Smithsonian museum. The attack took place at about 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 at 12th and Jefferson streets on the Mall.
The other victim, Navy petty officer George K. LaRoach, 34, was strangled in his southeast Washington apartment. The murders occurred within two hours of each other, police said.
The suspects, Roy Anderson Leasure, 19, of 524 Atlantic St. SE, and Charles Patterson Perkins, 19, of 1816 Frederick Pl. SE, were being held without bond in connection with the two murders.
Leasure, who received a two-year probation sentence in May for a separate assault case here, was charged with the murder of Whipple, who died Friday after being in a coma for 18 days at George Washington University hospital.
Both Leasure and Perkins were charged in the death of LaRoach, of 2300 Good Hope Rd. SE. Police said one of the suspects apparently knew LaRoach.
A third man, wanted for questioning in the two cases, was arrested in a separate case yesterday, but his name was not released by police.
Leasure and Perkins were charged with the June 12 rape of an 18-year-old who was assaulted repeatedly for three hours in Congressional Cemetery in Southeast Washington after being lured into a car by the men, according to police.
The suspects allegedly called the woman the next day at her home and threatened to harm her if she refused to see them. The woman told her mother and father, who called the police.
According to court records, police got a break in the Whipple case a week after the assault when an anonymous caller told U.S. Park Police, who have jurisdiction on the Mall, that Leasure had assaulted the woman.
Leasure's arrest warrant said that a man who knew Leasure had seen him on the Mall about two blocks from the site of the Sept. 17 assault and that Leasure's clothes had blood on them.
The man asked Leasure what had happened and he responded that he had just kicked a woman, the warrant said.
Whipple, who had lived in Washington for five years and had worked as a volunteer at the Smithsonian while she pursued an art career here, had been attending an art class just before the attack.
Two hours after the assault on Whipple, police said, Leasure and Perkins went to LaRoach's apartment in southeast Washington. It was not clear which of the two men knew LaRoach, a yeoman petty officer assigned to the admiral's staff at the Washington Navy Yard.
The two men allegedly strangled LaRoach and left him in the bath tub, according to the police.
Although robbery was initially suspected in both cases -- a stereo was taken from LaRoach's apartment -- police said Whipple's purse, which was found about 50 feet from her body, still contained $7 in cash.
"She never did carry much money," a friend said. "Just enough to get by."
Carolyn Randall, a Smithsonian volunteer who worked with Whipple, said the two of them had once talked about what they would do if they were ever attacked.
"One time we talked -- you know how women are -- about what might happen. We'd said we'd run."
Whipple taught art classes, took odd jobs and helped out in every imaginable cause, according to friends who lived with her at 1300 17th St. NW. They said she had left a marriage in Grosse Point, Mich., to find her own life in Washington's small but vibrant art world.
Just this fall, after years of grab-bag work she finally had landed a fulltime creative job doing graphics work with a private consulting firm.
Yesterday, while the police continued to piece together the details of the crimes, Gloria Whipple's children 24-year-old Dean and 19-year-old Lynne, went to their mother's cluttered attic loft on 17th Street to sort through her belongings.
"She loved this city. That's why she decided to come here," Dean said. "This really came at a bad time. She was just getting her life together." Dean, who uses his father's last name, Freiwald, works in Detroit.
Lynne, a criminal justice student at Northern Michigan University at Marquette, searched around for pictures of her mother and some of her work. "This makes me really want to get into it [criminal justice]," she said. "I don't understand this."
Friends and associates of Whipple echoed the sense of loss.
"She was a very talented, productive artist who was denied the opportunity to live out her live," said Wauneta Heckleman, a long-time friend.
"She led the kind of life that fills community newspapers. She had a thousand projects going at the same time, but she always had time for yours."