- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Alexandria, Va., police pressed even parking enforcement officers into service to look for a man suspected of stabbing 8-year-old Kevin Shifflett to death last week while playing in his great-grandparents' yard, as city schoolchildren returned to class yesterday.

Police added special-unit officers to regular patrols, especially targeting Alexandria's 11 elementary schools. More uniformed officers also were dispatched to watch day care and recreation centers and monitor routes children walk to and from school, said Alexandria police spokesman Amy Bertsch. Kevin was a third-grader at Mount Vernon Elementary School.

Officers were also reminding adults to resist the temptation to let children play outdoors, despite yesterday's break in nearly a week of rain.

"It's just too great a risk" unless a vigilant adult is right there with them, Ms. Bertsch said.

Public outrage over the brutal afternoon killing of young Kevin brought donations over the weekend that pushed reward money up from $10,000 on Friday to $30,000.

And dozens of calls offering tips pour into police each day.

"We've gotten easily over 200 tips," Ms. Bertsch said.

Police were pleading yesterday to hear from two taxicab drivers who may know something about the suspect who apparently got away so easily and with few traces.

Witnesses' descriptions resulted in a head-and-shoulders sketch. He is described as a black man in his 20s, between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall, and weighing between 150 and 170 pounds. He may have had a mustache and slight growth of beard.

At about the same time of the stabbing Wednesday and just a block southeast, two cabs waited at a taxi stand at the intersection of Mt. Vernon and Windsor avenues.

A woman there got a ride in a blue and white White Top cab after being turned away by a driver in a yellow and black cab.

Police say the suspect's quick getaway may have been made easier by catching a cab ride, and they are appealing to both cabdrivers to call.

The driver of the yellow and black cab which may have been operated by Yellow Cab or Diamond Cab had a beard, wore a white baseball cap and was probably of Middle Eastern descent, according to police.

Meanwhile, the 51-year-old woman injured after she spotted and tried to thwart Kevin's attacker continues to improve in a local hospital.

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