POTOMAC -- A handyman hired to help paint a stately home in this wealthy Washington suburb was charged yesterday with killing the podiatrist who owned it, the doctor's three daughters and another house painter, leaving friends and fellow doctors traumatized.
Each of the victims was beaten -- their bodies found bound and gagged in separate rooms of the $700,000 home on Twining Lane, say investigators and court documents filed last night.
Police identified the dead as Dr. David Marc Goff, 46, and his daughters Andrea Robyn Goff, 22; Sheri Helene Goff, 19; and Alyse Renee Goff, 14. The dead painter was identified as Mark Richard Aldridge, 30, of Wheaton.
Police said they arrested handyman Bruman Stalin Alvarez, 20, also of Wheaton on Thursday night after he called the emergency 911 number from the house. According to court documents, Mr. Alvarez -- who speaks English poorly and talked to authorities through an interpreter -- told a dispatcher that he had killed his boss.
Officers went to the house and found Mr. Alvarez in the driveway with blood splashed on his shirt, the documents say. Mr. Alvarez later told investigators he killed his boss, Mr. Aldridge, after the boss killed the family members and asked for help burying the bodies, documents say.
But Maxi Condorey, who shares an apartment with Mr. Alvarez, said the suspect did not get along with Mr. Aldridge. "Bruman complained that Mark wasn't paying him what he'd been promised," she said.
Police charged Mr. Alvarez -- who had worked independently for the slain doctor off and on for about a month and was hired by Mr. Aldridge to help repaint the house -- with five counts of first-degree murder. Last night, he was being held without bail at the Montgomery County Detention Center.
"Montgomery County experienced one of its most heinous crimes," county Police Chief Carol Nehrling said yesterday. "This community has been shocked, angered and saddened by the brutal slayings. . . . It is an overwhelming scene to look at."
Neighbors, friends and co-workers of the dead family members expressed disbelief at the slayings. They described Dr. Goff as a loving father devoted to his family and well-regarded in his profession.
"He was a gentleman's gentleman," said Dr. Gene Mirkin, a Silver Spring podiatrist. "He was one of the most honest and forthright people you would come across. This is a guy who wouldn't hurt a flea."
Active in the local Jewish community center and their neighborhood of half-million-dollar homes, the Goff family was known as generous and close. Dr. Goff's wife, Irma, often worked as his assistant and receptionist, and baked cookies for his patients. She and the couple's 17-year-old son were vacationing in Ocean City when the slayings occurred; she couldn't be reached yesterday.
Police said emergency dispatchers received their first call for help at the two-story gray and white Tudor home at 8:35 p.m., but the caller either hung up or was disconnected.
Two officers went to the home, checked outside and rang the doorbell. Police said no one answered, and a neighbor told the officers the family was on vacation.
The second phone call, reporting a slaying, came about two hours later, at 10:45 p.m. The handyman was arrested when officers arrived. Police said Mr. Alvarez is their only suspect.
Inside the house, police described a brutal scene. The three daughters were found on the upper level; the two men on the lower level. Chief Nehrling would say only that they had been bludgeoned.
The "wound patterns" on the family members were consistent with each other, the court documents say, but they differed from those on Mr. Aldridge. Autopsies are planned for today or tomorrow.
Police said nothing appeared to have been taken from the house and there was no sign of forced entry.
Court documents said the killings occurred about 4 p.m., and that Mr. Alvarez told detectives that he moved his boss's body from a bedroom to the basement and spent hours cleaning the house of blood.
Lt. Michael Garvey, director of the Police Department's major crime division, said Dr. Goff worked a normal day Thursday and returned home about 2:30 p.m.
The lieutenant said the slain painter, Mr. Aldridge, had nothing to do with the crime.
Those who knew Dr. Goff described the podiatristas a "friendly guy" with a pleasant demeanor.
His oldest daughter, Andrea, just graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and planned to start law school at George Washington University in the fall. Sheri just finished her sophomore year at the University of Maryland College Park and recently returned from studying in Israel. Friends said the youngest daughter, Alyse, "was the apple of [Dr. Goff's] eye."