Three men believed responsible for a series of rapes and armed robberies in the Washington area were killed early yesterday in Prince George's County when a stolen car they were driving hurtled 50 feet through the air over a stream and crashed upside-down after an 80 mph police chase.
The three men were involved in at least two rapes in the District of Columbia Wednesday night, police said, and had robbed and tried to abduct a third woman.
The car they were driving was allegedly stolen from one of the victims that evening and used during another abduction, rape and robbery before it was spotted by police and pursued along Kenilworth Avenue just over the District line.
D.C. police said yesterday the men were linked to at least a dozen armed rapes and more than 50 armed robberies in the metropolitan area in the last two months. Police are investigating dozens of other recent robberies and rapes in the area for possible links to the men killed in the crash. They said it could be days before the full extent of the three suspects' activities is known.
Authorities have been hunting for more than six weeks for the men responsible for what they said was a highly professional series of crimes here. Officers believe the car crash has ended that search.
Prince George's County police, who joined the 3 a.m. chase on Kenilworth Avenue, identified the three dead men as Andre Quinard Redrick, 18, of the 1700 block of D Street NE; Michael Anthony Newman, 19, of the same block, and Maurice Edward Butler, 20, of the 1300 block of Montello Avenue NE.
All three were killed when the Toyota they were driving left Kenilworth Avenue near a junkyard a short distance over the D.C. line. The car, which police said was traveling about 80 mph, careened through the junkyard, struck a retaining wall and flew over Beaverdam Creek before crashing into trees and flipping over on the opposite bank.
Illuminated by spotlights, rescue workers using pneumatic prying tools spent several hours extracting the three bodies from the wreck, which had landed in part of the Joseph Smith and Sons Inc. junkyard. Police said they also recovered from the car jewelry and other items from three robberies committed that night, as well as ski masks that had been a signature in the series of apparently related rapes and robberies since mid-December.
Police said the accounts of several crime victims of Wednesday night and Thursday morning described rapes and robberies that fit into a pattern of similar crimes.
Each victim was a woman driving alone, who apparently had been followed until she parked her car, and who then was robbed and forced to ride with the group while the men took turns raping her.
Around 11:30 p.m. Thursday, police said, three men wearing ski masks approached a woman who had parked her car on Eads Street SE. They stole her purse and attempted to force her into a car, but fled when she struggled.
Shortly after midnight, a 25-year-old woman was parking her car on Highwood Drive SE when she was approached by a man wearing a ski mask who robbed her, then forced her to sit in the passenger seat while he drove to a nearby corner and picked up two companions, also wearing ski masks.
Two of the men allegedly raped her at gunpoint while a third drove the car through the city. The woman was let out of her car in the 3400 block of Nash Place SE. She immediately reported the crime, and a description of the car was sent out over the police wires.
Shortly afterward three men allegedly robbed and abducted a third woman who was leaving her automobile near her home on Eighth Street NE. She also was raped in the stolen car, police said, then let out in the 1300 block of Quincy Street NE.
The car was spotted and pursuit began about 3 a.m. The chase ended with the crash a few minutes later.
According to police, the masked rapists always took gold and silver jewelry from their victims. Occasionally they would drive a victim to her bank's automatic teller machine and force her to use a money card to remove funds from her account. Until recently, the men had never struck their victims. They always wore gloves.
Police said the rapists were experienced car thieves who took pains to wipe away any evidence of fingerprints. Almost all the rapes occurred between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. D.C. police had detached a special unit from the sex and robbery squads in December to pursue the group. But the men were always able to elude police by quickly leaving one car and stealing another.
Police said dozens of commercial establishments were robbed by men bearing the same descriptions as the rapists.