Posted Posted by DetectiveEstes in Detective Estes' Corner     Comments No comments


I thought this would be a good time to tell this story.  It is a true story.  It happened in 1978.  It is a story of a brutal crime in the middle of the night.  A horror story when seen in writing.   The story has been on my mind for many years.  It was the very worse crime scene I had ever been on.  The crime was solved because of never ending, sometimes routine, sometimes outstanding police work.  The police officers & detectives told about here are the same kind that are in every neighborhood in America –  police officers dedicated to solving every crime and apprehending every criminal.

The Officer was on routine patrol.  Lots of police officers get lost in kind of a tactical haze on routine patrol.  They drive around their assigned areas safely, staying out of the way of traffic and letting the scenery drift by.  But if something is unusual the officer snaps back into focus, pays strict attention and responds to whatever issue has arisen and deals with the problem tactically and effectively.

The Officer had just completed a 5 day alarm and security school given by Ron Caine of Caine alarms (now Vector Security).  During this training electronic alarms placement and design were taught as well as burglary knowledge and prevention.  One of those knowledges had to do with residential burglary occurring due to open doors.  In fact, The Officer learned that 96% of All residential burglary happened through open doors. The burglar would walk up to the door that was open, and take a quick look inside.  If no one was right there, bad guy would enter, steal whatever was close (usually a purse), and leave.  If someone was right there, bad guy usually apologized that he had the wrong house (and indeed, that was true), and leave.  From this class, The Officer decided he would begin more aggressive residential patrol by finding open doors in homes and notifying the owners of the burglary statistics.  Hopefully this would prevent more burglaries.

The Officer turned onto the little street right across from the hospital.  As he coasted along, The Officer viewed the left side of the street.  He would turn around and view the right side when he drove the other way.  Viewing the left made it easier to quickly exit the car if necessary.  One could keep their attention focused as they were exiting without losing a tactical advantage.  Tactical advantage is always important in police work.

There.  A little house at the top of a slight incline had the front door ajar about six inches.  There was no storm door.  The Officer marked out to the dispatcher that he was checking an open door at the address.  The dispatcher acknowledged and asked The Officer if he wanted a backup.  “I’ll let you know”, The Officer casually looked at the front and sides of the house enroute to the front door.  He noticed the house was dark inside.  Of course it was daylight outside so that wasn’t particularly suspicious.  Except that The Officer couldn’t see any movement inside the home during his approach.  But, in Arlington that wasn’t unusual either.  Many residents, especially elderly ones, worked in the back yard leaving their front door unlocked.  This, of course, made burglaries very easy for those so inclined.

The Officer made it to the front door.  Just peeking through the crack of the door, there were no lights on.  The living room, off to the right where The Officer could see appeared to be very messy.  Lots of stuff on the floor, and even the furniture appeared out of place and moved a lot.

The Officer knocked on the door.  “Hellooo, anyone here? This is the Police.  Just checking your door.  It’s open.”  The Officer always used a friendly voice because he had already found that it scared a lot of people into some sort of shock when they could hear someone practically beside them calling out.  The Officer thought he heard some shifting of paper or something else.  “Hello, everything ok?”  A low moan was heard, just inside the front door and to the left. “Help me, please.  Help me”, said a female voice. The Officer pushed on the front door but something was against it.  The Officer drew his Smith & Wesson 357 Magnum revolver and notified the dispatcher that someone was calling for help inside.  The dispatcher acknowledged and called for more units.  The Officer asked the person inside, “ma’am, are you pushed up against the door?”  She replied, “no, I’m in the room off to the left. I was attacked sometime last night.”

The Officer replied back, “Ok.  “I’m going to force your door open and I didn’t want to take a chance on hurting you.”  The woman answered, “I’m hurt from those boys getting in here.  They beat me and tried to set the papers on fire to burn me up but the fire went out.” The Officer kicked the front door open further then entered the home quickly.  What he saw was the worst crime scene ever, and for all of his career.

The elderly female (79, The Officer later learned) was lying just inside the room off to the left of the hallway by the door.  She was on a pile of papers and books.  As she said, the papers had been burned under her, but when the flame got to the books it went out, though it still smoldered.  The woman was face down.  She was naked.  An umbrella had been inserted into her rectum and was still there.  Her face, arms and legs were heavily bruised.  She was bleeding from the nose and mouth and it looked like she may have been missing some teeth.  She said to The Officer, “They banged on my back door about 4 this morning.  Two of them.  I was going to see what was wrong and they kicked in the door.  First thing they did was knock me down and kick me.  They kept hitting me and kicking me until I lost consciousness.  I think maybe I was raped.  I kept asking them to leave and they kept laughing, saying they weren’t near done yet.  They kept calling me ‘white bitch’.  I offered them money but they told me they wanted me.  After they got done, one of them brought me in here and the other one tore up my house.  I think he must’ve broke everything.  I didn’t see.  The one with a gold tooth in front pushed me down then threw all the books and papers out of that closet right there on top of me.  Then he lit the papers.  They kept going out.  Finally, he got my umbrella and put into my behind and said he was going to push until I died.  The other came out and told him it was time to go and they went out the front door.  They talked to another boy outside then they left.  I’ve been here since.  I prayed for someone to come.”

The Officer noted to himself that the lady was talking really slow, almost like in a trance.  He began to worry about shock.  He went into another part of the house and got a blanket, putting it over the woman’s back and tucked it in around her.

The Officer called for an ambulance,and the fire department to check on the still smoldering paper heap.  He also called for a Police Agent (crime scene investigator), and a supervisor.  “I’m going to stay right here with you ma’am, until the ambulance gets here, then I’ll go to the hospital with you if that’s ok with you,” The Officer said; then he asked, “What’s your name ma’am?”  “Rose”, she said.  The ambulance arrived and worked on Rose until they got her stabilized.  One of the EMT’s told The Officer they thought Rose’s heart was in strong condition and that she was coming out of the shock she had been in.  The EMT commented on the extent of injuries from the beating all over her body.  The Officer took down the EMT’s name and the ambulance left for the hospital. The Police Agent, John S. arrived and took photos of Rose and the house as the ambulance left.

Just before Rose left John asked her if the young men had anything over their hands that she knew of.  John later told The Officer that he never uses the word, ‘gloves’ in asking that question because it limits the person’s answers.  They are thinking in terms of gloves specifically and may forget other coverings, such as sox, or a piece of cloth or even something over their knuckles like brass knuckles.  Rose turned her head toward John and said, “I know you’re asking about gloves, but their hands had nothing on them.  I expect they must’ve skinned their knuckles badly using them so much on my face,” and she smiled a little.

(An interesting aside in the processing of the crime scene was that as the Police Agent arrived, the ambulance was nearly ready to take Rose to the hospital.  Agent John stopped them for a short time, and took photos of Rose in the house, and one of her on the gurney from the ambulance.  The photos were all taken with a Brownie insta-matic camera.  For camera buffs, a Brownie is certainly not known as a quality camera.  But John felt the ambulance would not wait while John got his standard crime scene camera out (a 4×5 Speed Grafix), set it up and took photos one at a time.  So Brownie camera it was.  When the trial came, the photos from the Brownie were enlarged to 14 x 20 inch photos so the judge/jury could clearly see Rose’s injuries on the day of the crime.  From such an inexpensive camera, the photos were perfect, no blurring at all.)  In this incident, a number of  minor miracles took place. The photo quality was just one of those miracles.

The police agent called to The Officer;  “Take a look at this living room,” This is god-awful.  The Officer walked into the living room.  An axe was incongrously leaned against part of a chair.  All, every piece, of furniture in the living room had been broken.  A sofa was now in many pieces, a stuffed chair, a lamp, the lampstand – all were in several pieces.  Above all, a baby grand piano had been smashed beyond repair.  The piano had clearly been for the benefit of Rose as it faced a window which was wider than the rest.  The piano had been a Steinway, worth perhaps $20,000, even in that year of 1979.  The piano had been struck so many times even the keys had been smashed.  It was beyond repair.

John said, “I’ll collect this axe and I’ll bet the lab can get some latents off here.  Oh, and look right here, Rog, here’s blood!  Maybe that’s Rose’s blood.”  John collected the axe for evidence.  John was at the crime scene his entire day.  John collected most of the papers on the floor.  He was very interested in the papers that were burned as he believed they were most likely to have latents on them due to the suspect attempting to light them so many times and probably was holding the sheet while attempting to light the paper.

The Officer went to the back door.  The door had been kicked, by someone who knew how.  A footprint was right above the doorknob.  There was no deadbolt.  About a foot above the footprint and on the inside of the door, was blood.  The Officer suspected that Rose arrived just as the door was kicked in.

The supervisor arrived and immediately called the Burglary Detective who investigated in this area. This was Detective Gris.  The Detective said he had some informants in the area and maybe he could find out the perpetrators soon.

Just before going to the hospital, the Officer went to the house in back of Rose’s house.  Rose had said an older woman lived there as well and The Officer wanted to check on her welfare.  Upon his knock, the lady came to the door.   “Did you hear or see anything last night ma’am?  Rose had a break-in.”  The woman replied, “yeah, I heard them out there.  Shoutin’ like a pair of fools.  Young black boys.  They were kicking on her door, until finally she got it open and they went on in there.”  The Officer was amazed, Here, was an outstanding witness.  Clearly from her words, she saw the suspects of this terrible crime.  “What did you do ma’am, when you saw them?” ,  The woman looked at The Officer strangely, “Do? Whatdya mean what’d I do?”  She paused,  “How do I know who Rose knows?”  I went to bed and back to sleep.

The Officer reminded himself that he had heard he should talk nice to even stupid people and here was a prime example.”Did you call the police ma’am?”

“Did I Call the cops?  You here ain’t cha? What do I need to call the cops for?  I told you, I don’t know who Rose knows and she opened the door for those boys.  I figgered they was friends. Besides, it wasn’t me.  Not my business.”   The Officer drew a deep breath.  “Ma’am, we haven’t caught these guys.  If they return tonight, to your door, hopefully you’ll remember to call the police”.   The Officer about faced and left before the woman could reply.  The Officer didn’t want a complaint and he knew that would happen if he continued with this person.

The Officer went to the hospital to check on Rose and finish his report.

Two weeks later, the Officer got a call from his supervisor.  “Gris knows who those two assholes are that broke into Rose’s house.”  He wants you to meet him at her house since you and she are friends now.  The Officer agreed and headed on over to Rose’s home.  Rose met The Officer at the front door.  She was in a wheelchair and her son was with her.  Rose said, “Ken won’t leave me.  He does all his work here now.  I’m afraid he’ll get tired of me.” She laughed a little.  Her son replied, “That’s right Mom, never leaving again.”

The Officer told Rose, “Ma’am, the Detective is coming by here and wanted me to be here with you.  He’s bringing some photos.  Sometimes its best to have a friend with you to kind of lean on when you see people like this, even in a photograph.”  Sometimes it’s easier if your friend is a police officer.  Rose set her mouth straight, “I’m ready.” She said.

The Detective arrived.  It was evident to The Officer that the Detective had met Rose before and asked about it.  “Oh yes, we met at the hospital.  I wasn’t sure Rose would remember me,” the Detective replied.  Rose commented, Actually, except for meeting a lot of really nice police officers day, it wasn’t a good day, ”

Detective Gris said to Rose, “Ok, a fellow told me the name of a guy who has been talking around the neighborhood about a couple guys he was with one night and they did an awful crime across from the Arlington Hospital.  This guy said he was the lookout.  His name is Robert.  I went to talk to Robert and he told me that he and two other guys who were both juveniles came down here.  The other two were looking to do a B&E and maybe rape a woman.  They figured since they were juveniles there would be very little penalty.  Robert, however, is not a juvenile.  So Robert said he stayed outside as a lookout.  After about 10-15 after they went in he started hearing a lot of noise from inside the house.  Robert said he has some backup time from another crime so he left.  Robert told me the names of the boys he was with.  I got their pictures and a few more for you to look at and see if you remember them.”

Detective Gris leaned forward and put his hand on Rose’s shoulder, “Now Rose, if you don’t recognize either one of them it’s ok, we’re going to get them anyway.  We have a lot of evidence.”  The Detective gave Rose all his photos in a little pile for her to look at them.  Rose went through the photos and immediately picked out two of them.  “These are the same ones. ”  Rose said softly as she pointed to the photos, ” This is the boy that set the papers on fire to try to burn me, and he’s also the one who put the umbrella in me.  This other boy here, was the first one in the back door that night and he’s the first one that hit me in the face.  Then he grabbed me and threw me on the floor and kicked me.

The Officer was astounded!  Here was a woman who had been brutally beaten, raped, and the SOB’s had tried to kill her as well.  A Lot of trauma happened that night.  But here she was, calm, determined, and correct in her identification.  She chose the right boys from all the photos with the first pass through the photos.  It was one of the most detailed and quickest photo lineup identifications by a victim that The Officer ever saw!

After Rose’s identification, Detective Gris asked her if she would like to hear who these boys were.  Rose said she would.  Detective Gris said both suspects are now in detention.  Lionel, the boy with the gold tooth, was in foster care.  That’s because his father is in jail for the murder of Lionel’s mother.  Lionel witnessed the murder in his home.  The father beat the mother to death.  The other boy, Teare, just got out of jail for an armed robbery charge and was living at home about two blocks from where Rose lived.  Lionel used to live in the southern part of the county, but since foster care has been living close to Teare.  Both boys, said Gris, had long and violent criminal histories, but he expected for this crime the suspects would be tried as adults and maybe get more prison time.

Rose asked what The Officer wanted to ask, “How on earth did you get this Robert person to talk to you Detective?  He must know that he could go to jail for this, even being on the outside of the house?”  Detective Gris said that sometimes people get worried about what’s going to happen when the police find they have done something and they worry themselves into calling the police and confessing their crimes to them.  That’s what happened with Robert. Gris said, “Unbelievably, when I went to Robert’s mother’s home she answered the door and said,  “’Robert has been waiting for you.’” Gris continued, “when I went in the living room Robert was there and said he wanted to get this away from him.  Robert said, ‘these guys are badass, man. They need to go to jail.  They beat that old lady up for nothin! No reason, cept they bad and want to prove they bad.  I lef’ before them ’cause I was hopin’ the cops would just come along and get’em.’ ”  Gris said he told Robert he appreciated him telling about this deed.  Robert told Gris he just wanted him to tell his P.O. (parole officer) so he didn’t go back to jail.  Gris then told Rose, “I think I forgot to tell Robert he was going to have to do some time here as well for his part in the deed.  We’ll let him know that after he testifies against these other two.”

After the photo line-up, Detective Gris and The Officer left together. Detective Gris said to the Officer, “I talked to the two main assholes in this.  They need to be in for the rest of their sorry lives.  Lionel really would have pushed that umbrella into Rose till she died.  He’s a real bastard.  Teare, The other boy was scared that Lionel was going to do exactly that.  He pulled Lionel away from Rose and said he threw him out the front door.  Teare said Lionel wanted to go back in and kill her but Teare pulled him away.  Plus, Teare was worried because Robert wasn’t outside.  Teare thought the police had found Robert and were waiting on he and Lionel to exit the house and Teare was really afraid so they left.”  Detective Gris talked about Lionel as well.  “Lionel was very soft spoken.  He never raised his voice and I could hardly tell he had any feelings at all from this crime.  He started to sweat a little when he was talking about what he did to Rose in the room he took her to.  He said he enjoyed doing that and he would’ve killed her if Teare hadn’t pulled him away.  Lionel was mad at Teare because he said he wanted to kill the white bitch in there.  Lionel could be a psychopath I think.  In any case, he needs to be in prison all his life.”   Gris commented last that, “one good thing out of all this was that the axe had both suspect’s fingerprints on it so that placed both of them inside Rose’s home.  Well, it didn’t really, but I told them it did so they confessed to bringing it with them in the house.”

Gris commented that he was happy that the three of them confessed as the blood could only be typed and grouped and a lot of people could have that same typing and grouping as Rose, maybe even the three scumbags.  (This was in 1979.  DNA for criminal incidents had not been allowed in court trials yet.)

Came the day of the trial.  Commonwealth Attorney Henry prosecuted this case himself.  Both suspects were tried as adults as Detective Gris expected.  Rose testified in clear terms.  She positively identified both suspects.  She told about Lionel’s gold tooth, and she told about the other boy hitting her and kicking her.  The Officer testified to what he found.  Detective Gris testified that both suspects had implicated themselves in these crimes.

The final outcome:  Both Lionel and Teare received 160 years with none suspended for this crime.  The lookout, (Robert) was sentenced to 10 years prison, and indeed, was charged after his testimony in the charges of the main suspects.


Rose spent her remaining years in that same house.  Her son stayed there with her as well.  The Officer and Rose remained close friends all the days of her life.


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About Detective Estes

Detective EstesMr. Estes has lived in the DC Metropolitan area for most of his life. His father’s influence and expertise in firearms resulted in Mr. Estes beginning to rifle shoot at a young age and eventually shooting on the Washington-Lee High School rifle team in Arlington, VA.

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