Dozens of officers seek boy, 11, in Montgomery Co.

October 16, 2011|By Dan Morse, The Washington Post

Dozens of law enforcement officers, some on horseback and aided by volunteers and dogs trained to sniff for cadavers, searched two parks in northern Montgomery County for signs of 11-year-old William McQuain on Sunday.

The search through the woodlands came three days after the arrest of Curtis M. Lopez, who is accused of killing William's mother, Jane McQuain, 51, in her Germantown apartment sometime in the past two weeks. McQuain's body was discovered on Wednesday, and Lopez, who is McQuain's estranged husband, was arrested in North Carolina on Thursday after police located McQuain's car near Charlotte. William has been listed as missing ever since.

That police were searching for a body in the woods represents an ominous turn in the case of the Germantown boy, who has now been missing for about two weeks, having not attended school or regular sports practices. Police on Sunday combed through Damascas Recreational Park and Little Bennett Regional Park for William's body based on information developed during the investigation.

Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery County police spokesman, said detectives still hope to find William alive, but "we can't ignore this recent information."

Police declined to discuss what information they had discovered, or from whom they received it, saying they did not want to compromise the investigation. The search party included five dog teams and seven mounted horse teams.

"A lot of this is heavily wooded" area, Starks said. Nearly 80 people had joined in the search as of Sunday afternoon. The search began at about 10 a.m. and was called off at 6 p.m.

"Realistically, as we get more information, we have to follow where it takes us," Starks said outside a command post at the Damascus park. "Every day this investigation has been going on, detectives have learned more, including today."

Sunday's searches were the first time that police have searched for William's body, Starks said. Police hope that William might have been dropped off at a friend's or relative's house, and that they have no evidence that he was harmed.

McQuain, who was discovered in her bedroom on Wednesday after a friend called authorities to say he couldn't reach her for days, died of stab wounds and blunt force trauma, police said. Police have charged Lopez in connection with her murder, and he is due in a North Carolina courtroom on Monday afternoon.

Lopez, 45, has a history of violence, according to court records. He was convicted in 1987 of repeatedly stabbing a man and leaving him on a Pennsylvania highway to die. The man survived, and Lopez was convicted of attempted murder and served a lengthy prison sentence. McQuain testified at that trial, and according to friends never divorced Lopez while he was in prison.

Neighbors and friends said the last contact they had with McQuain and her son was on Saturday, Oct. 1. William has not attended school or sports practices since that day.

A neighbor told the Post that a man fitting Lopez's description was seen going into and out of McQuain's apartment in early October, in the days just after McQuain was last seen alive. A longtime friend of McQuain's said in an interview that he spoke with McQuain a day before she went missing, and McQuain told him she was afraid of Lopez and was concerned that he might harm her.

morsed@washpost.com

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