Violent episode is part of murder suspect's history He stabbed date of his ex-girlfriend

October 14, 1992|By Sheridan Lyons and Glenn Small | Sheridan Lyons and Glenn Small,Staff Writer

A 41-year-old Wheaton man now charged with four Montgomery County murders and a Catonsville carjacking was convicted of trying to choke his ex-girlfriend and stabbing her companion with two butcher knives after lying in wait under her bed for an hour in 1982.

The portrait of Alan Patterson Newman that emerges from the record in Montgomery County Circuit Court is of a disturbed, suicidal and sometimes violent man, whose jealousy erupted into rage 10 years ago, when he tangled with the criminal justice system and received probation and an order to continue seeing a psychiatrist.

Things hadn't changed much a decade later, when Mr. Newman stood with a gun to his own head in a Harper's Ferry parking lot Friday and told a deputy sheriff his life was a mess.

Chief Deputy Sheriff James Jones of Jefferson County, W.Va., said he and other officers eventually talked Mr. Newman into surrendering Friday, after a three-state car chase and two shootouts with police.

Yesterday, Jefferson County Magistrate Gail Boober ordered Mr. Newman held without bail on detainers charging him with the murders in Montgomery County and attempted murder in Baltimore County. The FBI and other police agencies in Maryland, Washington, D.C, and Virginia continued to comb their files for unsolved crimes that fit his pattern.

Mr. Newman apparently never settled upon a profession and was a self-employed house painter when arrested last week. He attended Virginia Technical University in the 1970s and again in the 1980s, without earning a degree.

Reached in Falls Church, Va., yesterday, a tired-sounding woman who said she was Mr. Newman's mother said he is a grown man who is responsible for his own actions now.

Mr. Newman is accused in several cases of taking cars at gunpoint -- and in four Montgomery County cases killing the victim -- then using the cars to rob banks. In the Baltimore County case, police said he surprised two teen-agers Friday morning and took their car, but was confronted by an off-duty city housing police officer and fled into Harper's Ferry, where he left the car and threatened to kill himself.

In 1978, he acted on a similar threat and shot himself in the head and chest with a .22-caliber handgun after a girlfriend had broken up with him, according to the court file. At the time, he already had begun a relationship with the Rockville woman he would later attack just after midnight on March 21, 1982.

Mr. Newman met his new girlfriend while they were insurance claims adjusters. They lived together from July 1980 to July 1981 at her home, the court file said. By early 1982, she had told him it was over.

When the Rockville woman ended their relationship, Mr. Newman began spying on her, according to the file. The night of the assault, he followed her and a date from her house to a restaurant and a bar. He then took a shortcut to beat them back to her house.

According to a defense statement in the file, Mr. Newman was hiding in the bedroom when he heard the woman and her date returning, grabbed two large butcher knives from the kitchen and hid under her bed. Mr. Newman said he wanted to see whether they would have sex, as another test of her love, according to the statement. He developed this "crazy idea", the statement said, to scare the other man away.

Instead, the woman came in alone, noticed something under the dust ruffle and lifted it, the statement continued. She found him lurking underneath with the knives. Mr. Newman leaped at her and tried to choke her. When her date came in to see what the commotion was about, Mr. Newman stabbed him twice in the back.

The woman called police while her date held the bedroom door closed to trap Mr. Newman, who fled through the bedroom window, smashed in through the kitchen door and cut the telephone cord with one of his butcher knives. Again, he choked the woman.

Her date rushed to the kitchen and was stabbed in the face and chest, the statement said.

He was charged with 13 crimes in that incident, including attempted murder. Initially, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. In an October 1982 plea bargain, Mr. Newman pleaded guilty before Judge David L. Cahoon to two counts of battery and agreed to continue psychiatric treatment and stay away from the victims.

The prosecutor in the case would not comment yesterday.

Soon after the attack, Mr. Newman had neatly written a letter to the woman, dated March 31, 1982, saying: "You probably hate me now . . . I want to say that I'm sorry . . . I have to change, or else I will make life worse for myself and others."

But the woman and her date wrote statements to the court saying they were terrified by the incident, and that it was clear Mr. Newman intended to harm them, not scare them.

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