August 8, 2002
A police and citizen task force was informally initiated last Thursday night at the Huntington Community Center to apprehend two perpetrators of an alleged abduction and sexual assault.
As a part of their regular monthly meeting, the Huntington Community Association interacted with representatives of both Fairfax County Police and Metro Transit Police in a combined effort to identify and apprehend the suspects who allegedly attacked a local woman on July 13, at the Huntington Metro Station.
"This girl did nothing to bring this on. It was 1:30 in the afternoon. I really want to catch these guys and put them away," said Detective Paul J. O'Neill, Fairfax County Police Department, Criminal Investigations Bureau, and lead officer on the case.
Joining O'Neill at the meeting, attended by approximately 20 members of the association, was Pfc. Crystal Nicholson, Fairfax County Police, Mount Vernon Station, and first officer on the scene the day of the attack. "This girl is one of the best witnesses I've ever had. She is 100-percent credible," Nicholson said.
THE ATTACK occurred near the bike rack at the Metro station as the victim was walking from the station on her way home from work, O'Neill explained. "They assaulted her on the sidewalk and tried to pull her into their car."
Before opening the meeting, Mack B. Rhoades Jr., association president, announced that he had invited representatives of both the Fairfax County Police and Metro Transit Police to discuss the incident and create a dialogue to involve the citizens in solving this crime.
John P. Triplett, commander, District 2, Metro Transit Police, explained that there was still some doubt "as to whether or not this actually occurred on Metro property. There was some original miscommunication between us and the Fairfax Police," he said.
"I'm still not convinced it was on Metro property," Triplett insisted. "The media said it was in the parking lot, but I'm not sure of that. Fairfax County never asked us about it until late that night."
When asked by an association member if anyone patrols the parking lots at night, Triplett admitted, "Most of our police are at the end stations. We depend heavily on the local police. We have a good working relationship with Fairfax County police."
Triplett explained to the group that as far as crime throughout the Metrorail system is concerned, "It is pretty evenly split between the trains, stations and parking lots. One of my main concerns is the reduction of parking-lot crime. My personal concern is what happens to people."
CRIME THROUGHOUT the Metro system is down markedly, according to Triplett. "In the first six months of 2001, we had 28 offenses. This year, in the first six months, there have only been 12," he said.
O'Neill sought the attendees' help not only in apprehending the suspects but also in identifying a witness who saw the incident and scared off the perpetrators by blowing her horn. She left the scene before police arrived and has not come forward, according to Nicholson.
As part of their discussion with the association members, O'Neill and Nicholson passed out a flier titled "Neighborhood Crime Canvass," which pictured artist’s sketches of the two suspects and gave detailed descriptions of them and the car they were driving. These have been circulating throughout Alexandria, Arlington and the Metro system since the crime.
According to the flier, both men are black males, one approximately 24-30 and the other between 19 and 21. The older, and driver of the car, is 5 feet 10 inches tall with a stocky build. He had numerous earrings in one of his ears, a scar on his forehead, and wore his hair in dreadlocks.
The younger black male is bald, approximately 5 feet 2 inches tall with a skinny build. He had a pierced eyebrow and nose. He also had colored braces on his teeth. It was this latter factor that drew the most interest and suggestions from the audience.
ONE MEMBER suggested the police check with orthodontists throughout the region to see whether the description matched up with any patients. When O'Neill suggested that this would be a daunting task with all the orthodontists in the area, it was further suggested the police call for volunteers to do the canvassing, particularly among the retired.
The suspects' car, as described by the victim, was black with a rear spoiler and a loose rear bumper. It also had red markings on the top of the front windshield.
"I feel these guys were just driving around, drinking beer, and hunting for trouble," O'Neill said. "I don't believe the victim was predetermined. But if you prevent someone from going down the sidewalk, for no good reason, it can be defined as an abduction."
According to O'Neill, the victim, whom he would not identify, had also told them her alleged abductors were "drinking beer and laughing about what they were doing." She and her parents, whose home was on the market at the time of the incident, have since moved, O'Neill verified.
Nicholson pointed out that "in this case, this victim has gotten 100 percent of what you pay your taxes for in Fairfax County. We have been with her all the way." And she reiterated, "This girl is an awesome witness."
In asking for the citizens' help, O'Neill urged them to contact him at the Criminal Investigations Bureau, 4100 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, or call him at 703-246-7870 with any information they might have or come across. The Mount Vernon Police Station, where Nicholson is based, is located at 2511 Parkers Lane. That phone number is 703-360-8400.
O'Neill also noted that the incident had been featured on Crime Solvers. Information can be given to them by calling either 703-691-8888 or 1-800-673-2777.
"These guys need to be in jail," O'Neill said. Rhoades assured him, "We will do everything we can to help you."