Montgomery County police charged a missing high school student yesterday with the slaying of an unidentified man whose burned body was found in the garage of a vacant house in Aspen Hill -- with its arms and legs cut off.
County police obtained a warrant on a charge of first-degree murder for the arrest of Samuel Sheinbein, 17, of the 2900 block of Birch Tree Lane, around the corner from the house where the body was found Friday.
Police said Sheinbein, a senior at Kennedy High School in Wheaton, told his family Friday that he was going to Ocean City, Md., for the weekend. By last night, he had not returned. Sources close to the investigation said police also are searching for a second young man, whom they have not identified, who was seen at the house with Sheinbein.
The identity of the victim remains unknown. Police said the dead man was 17 to 25 years old and had slightly curled, short, black hair. Police initially described the victim as black, but said yesterday that his race remained “undetermined” because the body was burned so badly.
The victim was found wearing size 36 Guess jeans over gray Nike gym shorts, with a white tank top and a blue three-button shirt with a collar. He wore a diamond stud earring in each ear.
“We’re hoping someone recognizes that description and can tell us who this is,” said Montgomery police spokeswoman Ann Evans. Even though the body was burned and fingerprints cannot be obtained, investigators hope to make a positive identification with dental records.
Police sources said Sheinbein and the unidentified companion were seen by residents last week pulling a wheeled cart on a path near the vacant home.
The partially dismembered body had been placed in a black plastic bag. The discovery was made by a real estate agent who was showing the house to a customer Friday morning. The agent and the customer smelled a foul odor when they entered the house on Breeze Hill Lane. They saw what appeared to be a human body and called police.
The dismembered limbs have not been found.
A police spokeswoman said investigators were led to Sheinbein after canvassing the suburban neighborhood and getting a description of a teenager seen at the house with his car, a green 1997 Pontiac Firebird. The description matched Sheinbein. Yesterday, police said they had recovered his car, which sources said was found at a nearby shopping center.
A Makita power saw had been left in the garage of the vacant house. Evans said an empty box for that model of saw was found in Sheinbein’s home after a search warrant was executed over the weekend. In addition, sources said, a shallow hole had been dug in the back yard of the vacant home, but nothing was found in it.
Calls to Sheinbein’s family were not returned yesterday evening.
A neighbor described the missing youth as a shy and conscientious teenager, the youngest of three children, who was “extremely handy with tools.” He lived with his parents, and neighbors said his father is a lawyer.
“I can’t believe this. I know of nothing untoward about this boy,” said one neighbor who asked to remain anonymous, as did others interviewed in the community.
Others had varying opinions of Samuel Sheinbein, describing him as a “smart aleck” or a loner.
Police described Sheinbein as dark-haired and white, standing 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing about 180 pounds.
Anyone with information on the victim or suspect is asked to call Montgomery County police at 301-217-4160.
Staff writer Fern Shen and special correspondent Lisa Carly Fine contributed to this report.