Rickey Brogsdale, who was arrested Saturday night and charged in the so-called "peeping Tom" shooting death of a Southeast Washington woman, has claimed responsibility for that homicide and the fatal shooting of a man who Brogsdale believed killed his sister, police sources said yesterday.
Police investigators, according to sources, taped a long and rambling statement from Brogsdale, 26, of Southeast Washington, and now believe that they can tie him to more than 10 shootings, including four homicides.
"He knew a lot about a lot of shootings," said a source.
Brogsdale was arrested about six blocks from the apartment of Yvonne Watts, 35, who was killed about 8 p.m. by a shot fired into her chest through an open bedroom window.
Watts' death, the only fatality in the peeping Tom incidents, marked the eighth time in recent weeks that women or couples have been shot at through ground-level windows or glass doors in the Southeast Washington area and in nearby Prince George's County.
A 22-caliber handgun recovered near the scene of Brogsdale's arrest was similar to the weapon used in some of the shootings, according to police sources, and authorities plan to conduct ballistics tests on the weapon today.
Five of the shootings, the first of which occurred Sept. 5, were disclosed Thursday in a highly publicized D.C. police news conference. After two more shootings late Thursday and early Friday, D.C. and Prince George's police assigned extra officers to patrol neighborhoods south of Suitland Parkway.
Brogsdale, according to police sources, has an extensive criminal record, including conviction for sex offenses, and he had been in jail for a parole violation until about five months ago.
He was charged early yesterday with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Watts, who lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her parents at 1104 Mississippi Ave. SE. He also was charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 6 shooting of Steven Wilson, 28, of 1708 W St. SE. Sadie Turner, Wilson's 27-year-old girlfriend, was wounded in the incident, according to police.
Police sources said yesterday that Brogsdale indicated that he believed that Wilson was responsible for the beating death of Brogsdale's sister, who was killed in April 1985 while Brogsdale was in prison.
In addition to Watts and Wilson, police sources said, Brogsdale is a prime suspect in the fatal shooting of a woman named Angela Shaw and in the death of a man whose body was found early last month near Suitland Parkway. The body of Shaw, shot with a 22-caliber weapon, was found Sept. 20 off a bike path in the 2300 block of Good Hope Road SE.
The shooting of Watts, who was pronounced dead at Greater Southeast Community Hospital at 8:32 p.m., roused the neighborhood and sparked a police manhunt for a suspect police had previously described as 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8, medium to dark complexion, and "very deranged."
Police sources credited the efforts of Officer Gerald Brown of the traffic division and Sgt. J.J. Thomas of the 7th District with leading to the arrest. They said Brown noticed some youths on a playground near Watts' apartment and got a description of a man they identified as having run from the area.
Brown then broadcast that description over the police radio, a transmission that was picked up by Thomas, who spotted a person matching the description in the 3300 block of Sixth Street SE, about six blocks from Watts' apartment, police said. Thomas chased the suspect before arresting a man whom police identified as Brogsdale.
Police said Brogsdale lives in an apartment at 3633 Sixth St. SE. However, neighbors at the complex said yesterday that Brogsdale, a man they knew as "Rock," stayed there often with a girlfriend but actually lived with his mother on Mississippi Avenue.
One neighbor said yesterday that she had complained to police last week and went looking for Brogsdale with a knife after hearing that he was "being funny" with her 10-year-old daughter.
"He was rubbing up against her legs, and he gave her $5 to hush up and not tell me," she said.
According to police sources, Brogsdale had a lengthy "rap sheet" that included arrests for drug possession, armed rape, carrying a pistol without a license and indecent exposure. It could not be learned yesterday which, if any, of these charges resulted in convictions, though police sources said Brogsdale had been convicted in cases involving indecent exposure and carrying a pistol without a license.
At Watts' apartment yesterday, the victim's distraught father, William Cunningham, said his daughter had been nervous about the recent shootings and had been careful to pull the blinds at night.
"I don't know why they were open last night," he said, pointing to the venetian blinds and half-open window. "The heat came on, and she probably cracked the window."
Ironically, Cunningham said, his daughter was getting ready to move out of the cramped apartment and live with a sister. Saturday night, she asked her father to go out and buy her a light bulb she needed for a lamp in the bedroom. When he returned, he said, his daughter was lying on the living room floor, bleeding to death, and his wife and neighbors had called an ambulance.
"She looked at me but didn't say anything," said Cunningham, who ran outside and met police from the nearby 7th District police station. "I think she was already dead." Staff writers Sandra Evans and Carlos Sanchez contributed to this report.