- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2000

A U.S. District Court jury in Greenbelt, Md., yesterday found Dustin John "Bones" Higgs guilty of 15 counts for kidnapping and murdering three young women on federal land near Laurel, Md., in 1996.
Judge Peter J. Messitte directed the jurors to return Wednesday to hear more testimony before deliberating to decide if Higgs, 28, should be executed or sentenced to life in prison.
A co-defendant, Willis Mark Haynes, 23, was found guilty in May of the same crimes, but that jury could not decide on a penalty. Judge Messitte subsequently sentenced Haynes to life-plus-45-years in prison.
Testimony at the trials showed that Higgs ordered Haynes, who had turned 18 only three months earlier, to shoot and kill Mishann Chinn, 23; Tanji Jackson, 21, and Tamika Black, 19, early Jan. 27, 1996, on a road through the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge.
Miss Black was a teacher's aide at a private school in the District. Miss Jackson was employed at Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt. Miss Chinn worked with a children's choir at a Temple Hills church.
Key testimony in both trials came from co-defendant Victor Gloria, who pleaded guilty to reduced charges of being an accessory after the fact in the slayings.
Gloria said the three women were invited on Jan. 26, 1996, to Higgs' apartment in Laurel. Miss Jackson was dancing by herself when Higgs grabbed at her. They argued. She went to the kitchen and got a knife, but she put it down, put on her coat, and she and the other women walked out.
Outside, she wrote down the address of Higgs' apartment and the license number of his Mazda MPV van. Gloria said Higgs watched her, pulled a .38-caliber revolver from an end table drawer, put it in his jacket pocket and told Haynes and Gloria to come with him.
Miss Jackson's notebook, a recent gift from her mother, was admitted into evidence, revealing the address and license numbers that were otherwise meaningless to police investigators.
Higgs was driving as the men caught up with the women, who were on foot, and persuaded them to get in. Gloria said he was drowsy from motion sickness and smoking marijuana cigars but roused about 4 a.m. when Higgs stopped along Route 197 and the women got out.
Haynes' confession, which could not be given to Higgs' jury, stated that Higgs handed him the pistol and said, "You better make sure they're dead."
Gloria said he saw Haynes shoot Miss Jackson and heard the other shots that dropped the women on the road, where they were struck by motorists about an hour later.
Higgs' girlfriend, and mother of his 4-year-old son, testified that Higgs was worried that "snitching" by one of the three women could get him trouble. Higgs dealt drugs, worked bank checking-account frauds and credit card thefts, Enidsi Darby testified.
Darby testified Higgs threatened to kill her on at least three occasions and threatened to kill another woman who said she was going to report him after he conned her in a checking-account fraud.
Darby was brought from prison in Danbury, Conn., where she is serving a sentence after pleading guilty in an unrelated case to voluntary manslaughter and arson.
Higgs and Haynes were charged with three counts each of first-degree premeditated murder, murder during kidnapping, kidnapping, use of a firearm in a crime of violence, and kidnapping resulting in death.

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