Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More backround on my Home Invasion updates

Interesting tidbit that helps to explain why I list home burglaries as “home invasions” even though the police report doesn’t specify that they were “home invasions.”


Pawnshop Led Police To Suspect In Invasions

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 21, 2008; B01

For 13 months, Montgomery County police tried to catch up with a man who was scaring the wits out of older residents in Chevy Chase, Bethesda and Potomac . The man broke into homes and -- according to new details revealed yesterday -- hogtied and gagged residents as old as 92. He pistol-whipped a 78-year-old, took items ranging from keepsakes to jewelry to bottles of liquor, and finally, in early September, killed one of the homeowners.

But for all of the detectives' hard work over those months, it was a lucky break that led them to a suspect.

On Oct. 7, the suspect, identified by police as Jose Garcia-Perlera, walked into Fred's Pawn Shop, a half-mile from his home in Hyattsville, and for $400 unloaded an Apple laptop computer that had been reported stolen, authorities said. The pawnshop owner reported the transaction, and police were soon searching Garcia-Perlera's home.

There they found items linked to the home invasions, including two "talking" wristwatches for the sight-impaired and a Mercury space mission medallion kept by homicide victim Mary Havenstein because her late husband was a "pioneering member" of the project, according to an affidavit signed by Detective Paula Hamill.

Garcia-Perlera was ordered held without bond yesterday by District Court Judge William G. Simmons. He is charged with numerous counts of robbery and theft and with first-degree murder in Havenstein's death.

Police have not released her exact cause of death, but two sources said yesterday that Havenstein was hit or beaten during the break-in; one source said she was not shot. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is open.

Court records indicated that Garcia-Perlera does not yet have an attorney. He is not a U.S. citizen and is wanted for deportation by federal immigration officials, according to the records.

Hamill's affidavit, made available in court records yesterday, indicates a trend of increasing violence in the crimes.

They began Sept. 17, 2007, when the burglar removed a pane from the rear basement window of a home on Maryknoll Avenue in Bethesda , the affidavit stated. Inside the home, police said, Garcia-Perlera stole the wristwatches and other items totaling about $2,450 in value.

Two months later, he broke through a basement window of a woman's home in Chevy Chase , stealing jewelry, keepsakes and other items valued at $800, according to Hamill's affidavit. During this attack, the victim told The Washington Post last week, she asked the assailant to loosen the clothesline around her arthritic knees, and he did so.

On Feb. 27, the assailant turned more violent, according to the affidavit. A 78-year-old woman on Picasso Lane in Potomac walked from her house to check an open storage area. Garcia-Perlera came out of the area, beat her with a silver revolver and forced her into her basement, according to the affidavit. The victim was found two days later when a relative went to check on her. She continues to suffer from a serious injury to at least one of her hands, a neighbor said.

The suspect left behind a black baseball cap, from which detectives extracted DNA that they later matched to DNA found at two of the other crime scenes. All three samples matched DNA taken from inside Garcia-Perlera's cheek after he was detained, police said.

On May 7, according to Hamill's affidavit, Garcia-Perlera broke into a couple's house in the Kenwood neighborhood. The assailant entered the bedroom wearing a scarflike garment over his face and military-style clothing. After hogtying the 70-year-old woman, he removed her rings, the affidavit said.

In late August came the laptop burglary.

On Aug. 28, police said, Garcia-Perlera walked into the unlocked front door of a home on Seven Locks Road . At the time, a woman -- younger than the previous victims -- was asleep in her room, the woman said in an interview yesterday. She spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her safety and privacy. Her son and two of his friends were in a sunroom listening to music. When their computer's battery went dead, one of the friends walked upstairs for a backup and discovered that the laptop was missing. In another room, jewelry was gone.

Investigators did not classify the burglary as one of the home invasions.
The victims were younger, and no one was tied up or attacked. The woman in the home said she felt the same way, even when she went to a community meeting about the home invasions.

"I didn't link it at all," she said.



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