A homicide-review group has decided that the killings of a half-dozen Montgomery County women from 1999 to 2001 were unrelated, even though four of those deaths remain unsolved.
In announcing the task force's conclusions Thursday, Police Chief Charles A. Moose revealed that officers closed one of the two solved cases through DNA testing. The alleged killer of Gloria Elizabeth Clagett committed suicide by stepping in front of a freight train.
"It was very important ... to assure our community that these violent crimes were indeed random," Moose said in a statement.
"There was enough variation in the evidence in each case to come to that conclusion," said Lt. Harold Allen, a police spokesman.
The string of unsolved homicides began with the beating and stabbing death of Clagett, 67, whose body was discovered in her Derwood home. Her car was found in a nearby church parking lot.
Then, between May 2000 and May 2001, five more women were attacked: Alison Thresher, 45, who disappeared and has not been found. Police consider the case a homicide. Jean M. Jenkins, 75, discovered bound and dead from a heart attack in the foyer of her Rockville house. Susan Kay Street, 56, shot outside her front door in Aspen Hill after delivering Avon products to a neighbor. Sue Wen Stottmeister, 48, assaulted as she jogged and left to die near a Rock Creek Park trail in Rockville. Leslie Jennings Preer, 49, killed in her house in Chevy Chase. There were no witnesses in any of these cases.
Weeks later, Moose appointed the task force. Two of the cases have been solved, with Albert W. Cook Jr. convicted in the murder of Stottmeister, his neighbor. The 25-year-old was arrested after he was seen trying to drag a woman inside his home and then described the earlier slaying in a videotaped statement to police. In May, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Moose identified Boyd Caleb Low, II Thursday as the man traced by DNA testing to the Clagett slaying. A service station employee had told police that a man had come in the day before her body was found and asked to change 26 silver dollars for cash. One had a trace amount of blood on it. Coins were believed taken from Clagett's house.
The next month, Low was arrested as a suspect in a Derwood robbery. In a police interview, he denied being involved in the killing. But after he was hit by a train in Gaithersburg, officers took DNA samples from his car that showed a mixture of his and Clagett's blood, Moose said Thursday.
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