Police in Prince George's County have made three arrests in the county's first slaying of the year — the stabbing death of a Chillum man who was found dead on New Year's Day.
With the arrests, detectives have closed four of 2011's 12 criminal homicides. Prince George's has seen 13 killings this year, with one ruled justifiable.
At a news conference Tuesday, County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said the arrests and the week that has elapsed since the last slaying signal that officials are making progress in solving homicides and stopping violence. It was Baker's first news conference about the spate of killings.
"My job as county executive is to give the men and women of our public safety [departments] the resources they need to address these problems," Baker said. "Their job is to get the job done, and I have not been disappointed with the work that [the police chief], his command staff, the rank and file of the Police Department have done."
The death of Ansel Donovan Whitelocke, 58, on New Year's started an unusual string of killings that resulted in 13 deaths before the year was 13 days old. No one has been killed in Prince George's since then.
Charged in connection with Whitelocke's slaying were Verlyncia Coleman, 21; Demarko Williams, 23; and David Wright, 28, authorities said.
Whitelocke was found stabbed to death inside his home in the 5700 block of Cypress Creek Drive in Chillum. Police said Whitelocke paid Coleman for sex. Prince George's County Police Chief Mark A. Magaw said Coleman apparently hatched a scheme with Wright and Williams to rob Whitelocke. During the course of that robbery, Whitelocke was stabbed to death, Magaw said.
According to charging documents, Williams detailed the killing to investigators, and police recovered bloody clothing from Wright and Coleman's apartment. Police also recovered knives and burned clothing believed to be connected to the slaying in a wooded area, according to the documents.
Police have said only two of the 13 killings in Prince George's appear to be connected, and those cases were part of the same event.
Many of the slayings are believed to be drug-related. In all but a few, investigators believe the victims either knew their attackers or were specifically targeted by them. Magaw said investigators were looking for any connection between them but had not found one so far.
The violence seems to have brought about an unusually high degree of cooperation among different law enforcement agencies in the county and federal authorities.
Prince George's Sheriff Melvin C. High and State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks both spoke at Tuesday's news conference and talked of their respective efforts to clear a warrant backlog and initiate a program that would encourage witnesses to speak out. The sheriff said he has 53,000 unserved warrants, but more than half are for traffic infractions.
Dozens of representatives from municipal police departments and federal agencies also attended the news conference.
Police have said federal agents and municipal officers have been either working directly with county homicide squads to solve the crimes or working on special enforcement efforts inside the Beltway, where most of the killings have occurred. A police major has been reassigned to coordinate anti-violence efforts.
"Violence in Prince George's County will not be tolerated," Baker said. "Those who are committing these acts will be brought to justice."