A 14-year-old Langley Park girl has been charged with murder in the death last week of her 48-year-old mother, according to Prince George's County police. The daughter gave herself up to police 10 days after she visited her mother in the hospital.
Yesterday's charges represent the second time in two weeks in which a teen-age Prince George's girl has been accused of killing a parent and the third case in a month in which one or more Prince George's juveniles have been charged with murder.
Victoria M. Gertson, 14, of 8402 12th Ave., turned herself in Tuesday night. She was charged as an adult with first degree murder under state laws that allow anyone 14 or older to be so charged, and is being held without bond at the county detention center.
Police said that the girl's mother, Maria C. Gertson of the same address, died May 24 after she suffered a head injury at her home on May 21. Police documents allege that mother and daughter were arguing about 5:30 a.m. on the 21st and that the daughter slammed her mother's head into a nightstand. Victoria's father Andris had already left for work in the engraving department of The Washington Post, according to police.
Maria Gertson was taken to Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park where family members say she was in a coma until she died. The state medical examiner ruled the death a homicide after performing an autopsy, and Prince George's police were notified.
Gertson's injury occurred only two days after the fatal May 19 stabbing of Emilio Casella, 45. Casella's daughter, 15-year-old Lisa Casella, and two of her friends, Daniel Eric Reedy, 14, and Fred Allan Mozingo, 19, were indicted yesterday in the stabbing death of Casella. Police allege that Lisa Casella contracted with the boys to kill her father at her home, which is less than two miles from the Gertson home.
According to detectives, Victoria Gertson was friendly with Casella and Reedy, and all live within a few miles of each other. The Casella and Gertson families both belong to St. Camillus Catholic Church in Montgomery County.
Detectives said they don't believe the two murders are related.
Sometime on the 21st, Victoria Gertson went to the hospital to see her mother, police said yesterday. At the hospital, she had an argument with her father and ran out, not returning to the Gertson home. Police said yesterday that they do not know where she had stayed during those 10 days. She was a ninth grader at High Point High School in Beltsville until April, according to school officials who declined to comment further.
Yesterday at the Gertson home, Victoria Gertson's half brothers, William and Robert Frenier, who came from the Midwest to attend their mother's funeral, said that the last few days have been "a mass of confusion."
Robert Frenier, 25, said his half brother Andy Gertson (Victoria's brother) called him last week and "told me my mom was in intensive care under 100 percent respiration and it didn't look good."
"All that we understand is that Mom had a cerebral hemorrhage," said William Frenier, 24, who had spoken with his mother's doctors. The Freniers said that although Victoria had not been home, several relatives had spoken to her by phone and that they had seen her at Maria Gertson's funeral last Saturday.
"Vicky called almost every day," William Frenier said. The brothers described the young girl as an "every day, average, normal kid."
The brothers said they found the police charges difficult to believe and that the police accusations are "all speculation." Other family members could not be reached yesterday.
Maria Gertson was a small woman who was a "fiery extrovert," her sons said. She was born in the Canary Islands and moved from Ohio to Maryland to be near relatives about 20 years ago, they said. She had worked as a housekeeper in nearby homes for several years, they added.
One neighbor, who did not give her name, said that she was shocked by the charges, particularly because Maria and Victoria, Maria's only daughter, seemed to be very close.
Police and coworkers of Andris Gertson said that the family had a history of domestic troubles. Daniel Santucci, Andris Gertson's supervisor, said that Gertson received a call at work the morning of the 21st from his daughter Victoria, who said that she could not wake her mother up.
Homicide detectives said they were questioning Victoria's aunt Tuesday night when the girl called the house. The aunt then went to an undisclosed location to pick the girl up, and persuaded her to turn herself in.
Earlier last month, during the first week of May, 17-year-old Thomas W. Wright of New Carrollton was charged in the strangulation death of Brian Zippert, an 8-year-old neighbor.