Howard slaying victim had owned up to theft


August 30, 2007|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,Sun reporter

On Aug. 22, the same day that Wasel G. Ali's family reported him missing, a manager at the Banana Republic at The Mall in Columbia confronted him about stealing nearly $1,300 in clothing while working at the store.

Ali signed a statement admitting to the theft and agreed to return the 27 items of clothing and accessories the next day, according to court records. But he never came back.

On Monday, five days after he went missing, Ali's body was found in a wooded area of Columbia. And yesterday, police ruled the death a homicide, the fifth in Howard County this year.

Police believe Ali was beaten to death.

According to Ali's twin brother, Wael, the 19-year-old was last seen by a friend leaving work at The Mall in Columbia and heading toward the movie theater and restaurants next to the shopping center.

Criminal theft charges filed by a Banana Republic loss prevention manager Aug. 23 confirm that Ali was at the mall Aug. 22. Police confirmed that relatives had told them that Ali was last seen at the mall.

In the days after his disappearance, Wael Ali put out a plea on for friends to meet at the mall and search for Wasel. After Monday, however, activity on the "Search for Wasel" page dropped off as friends turned to a new Facebook group, "In Loving Memory of our Brother Wasel G. Ali."

Wasel Ali of Warm Granite Drive in Columbia was a 2006 graduate of Wilde Lake High School. According to his brother, he enlisted in the Army Reserve in July 2006.

Both brothers, however, were discharged from the reserves after their arrests in February for impersonating military police and stealing a government vehicle. Wasel was discharged in March, according to Jack Gordon, chief of public affairs for the 99th Regional Readiness Command, U.S. Army Reserve, based in Coraopolis, Pa.

Both Wael and Wasel pleaded guilty in July to carrying a concealed deadly weapon in the incident. According to court records, while driving the stolen government vehicle, a gray Dodge Stratus, the brothers flashed military police badges while trying to pull over a man who they alleged was "racing" on a roadway in Columbia. Both were put on supervised probation.

The brothers, who had batons, handcuffs, pepper spray and folding knives, were not military police and had not completed their advanced training after basic training. Wasel Ali told police that his brother had signed out the Stratus.

In a brief telephone interview, Wael Ali said yesterday the news media was unfairly focusing on his brother's criminal past.

"No matter what people say he's done, nobody deserves to be murdered," he said. "The issue should not be his past. It should be what happened to him."

Police would not describe the nature of Ali's injuries. Police do not know whether he was killed in the woods near the 12200 block of Green Meadow Drive or whether his body was dumped there.

Police are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and are asking anyone with information to call 410-313-3200.

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