Timothy Buzbee, the land surveyor charged in connection with the series of rapes in the Aspen Hill area of Montgomery County, was apprehended a day after police watched him follow a 9-year-old Bethesda girl to her home after dark, peer in the windows and approach a locked side door before fleeing, a prosecutor said at a bond review hearing yesterday.
The alleged incident was described by Assistant State's Attorney Barry Hamilton for District Court Judge Charles W. Woodward, who subsequently denied bond for Buzbee on the two rape charges against him.
Hamilton also told the judge police had found the Exxon credit card of one of the rape victims in a drawer of Buzbee's desk at the Gaithersburg surveying firm where he works.
The card had been used nine times since it was allegedly stolen when the woman was raped March 9, Hamilton said. Three of those credit charges were incurred in Frederick, Md., where Buzbee lives, the prosecutor said. The same rape victim told police that before the attack the rapist drove past her in a car she described as a silver Honda. The suspect, Judge Woodward was told, drives a silver Toyota Tercel.
Buzbee is also charged with a rape and kidnap of a 15-year-old girl on July 31, 1981. Police believe the rape occurred in the Aspen Hill home of Buzbee's parents, according to testimony yesterday.
Buzbee, 25, the married father of two small daughters, has been charged with two counts of first-degree rape, a charge of trespassing growing out of the alleged peeping-tom incident last Thursday and others for robbery, kidnaping, burglary and assault and battery. He stared straight ahead and showed no emotion during the 60-minute hearing. Among those in the crowded, tiny courtroom at the Montgomery County Detention Center were his wife, father, uncle and father-in-law.
In denying bond for Buzbee, Woodward cited community safety and the amount of supervision that probation would require. Although Buzbee will not be released because of the rape charges, Woodward set a $10,000 bond on the robbery and assault charges and a $500 bond on the trespassing charge. A trial date of Nov. 30 was set for the trespassing case.
Prosecutors said they will seek grand jury indictments against Buzbee on the rape charges, but if that hasn't occurred before Dec. 3, Buzbee will be returned to court for a preliminary hearing. He is being held at the detention center in Rockville.
Buzbee had been under surveillance for two weeks by Montgomery County police investigating 16 sexual assaults that have terrorized the Aspen Hill area for the last 18 months.
Some hours after he was arrested after he left work on Friday, police arranged a six-man lineup, which included Buzbee and five police officers. At least two rape victims viewed the line-up, Hamilton said, and the two picked out different men, neither of them Buzbee.
The robbery and assault charges against Buzbee grew out of an incident that occurred nearly two years ago in which Buzbee was questioned but released. The prosecutor said a 22-year-old woman was grabbed from behind on St. Lawrence Drive in the Four Corners area of Silver Spring on Dec. 9, 1980, and two citizens detained the man. The assailant, who was wearing a green fatigue jacket and hard-soled shoes, told the two people who caught him that he had been jogging and that he had friends who lived nearby. They took the man to the home of his friend, where a woman identified him as Buzbee but said she was unaware of why he was in the neighborhood. She called police, who questioned Buzbee but did not detain him. In the presence of police, the victim confronted Buzbee and said she recognized him as having once dated a friend of hers.
As part of the police surveillance of Buzbee, the 15-year-old victim who was kidnaped and raped listened in to telephone conversations on Nov. 1 between police and seven men working for land surveying firms, including Buzbee. When she heard Buzbee, the fifth man called, the girl told police, "That could be the voice of the man who assaulted me, but I would have to see him in person to be absolutely sure," said Reginald Bours, Buzbee's lawyer, reading from police information. The prosecutor said, however, that the girl later said she was "pretty sure" that Buzbee's voice was that of her attacker. The girl had been accosted in her home, blindfolded and gagged, and taken to another home, where she was raped.
Bours, a former assistant state's attorney, said Buzbee runs Almar and Associates, which does house location surveys for real estate settlements. Buzbee's father, William, a real estate lawyer in Gaithersburg, is a part-owner of the firm.
Buzbee was raised in Flower Valley, near Aspen Hill, and is a 1975 graduate of Good Counsel High School. Buzbee attended Montgomery College and currently is taking a civil engineering course at the University of Maryland, his lawyer said. Bours said that Buzbee and his wife have been married five years and are buying a $60,000 home in Fredericktowne Village, where they've lived for two years.
Bours argued that because of his client's ties to the community, he should have been placed on probation before his trial. He said much of the police information was "conjecture, speculation and conclusion." But Hamilton argued against the judge setting a bond in the two rape cases because of the seriousness of the offenses and the fact that police had difficulty keeping track of Buzbee in the two weeks they followed him, when he often drove different autos.
Buzbee was arrested after a half dozen unmarked police cars and one squad car surrounded the suspect's blue and silver Mercury, said Pete Lozupone, of the Gaithersburg Auto Service, who witnessed the arrest. "They surrounded him, asked him out of the car, cuffed him and took him away," said Lozupone. "I didn't know why they were making the arrest, but you could tell it was important."
Search warrants for Buzbee's home, two autos, his office, as well as a body search, were obtained before Buzbee's arrest but not executed until after his arrest Friday, Hamilton said. Three weeks earlier, a teacher at Good Counsel said he was contacted by police asking if they had a record of Buzbee's signature.
His arrest shocked several of his neighbors and former classmates who described him as a likeable family man.
The series of sexual assaults, which began in March 1981, changed the living habits of thousands of families in the Aspen Hill area, with parents restricting the activities of their daughters and more security hardware being added to homes.