- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fairfax County police are trying to determine whether the assault on a Springfield woman alone in her home on Christmas Eve is related to the unsolved killings of two women nearby.

“There’s certainly a possibility of a linkage in the other cases,” said Fairfax County police spokeswoman Officer Camille Neville, “but there’s nothing at this time to confirm it.”

Police said a man forced his way into a house near Frontier Drive on Sunday between 8 and 9:40 p.m. and assaulted a 62-year-old woman. Police have not disclosed the location of the house.

The woman, who was found by a relative, was hospitalized with a puncture wound to her arm and other injuries that were not life-threatening. Investigators interviewed the woman at Inova Fairfax Hospital. She described her attacker only as a man wearing white or gray clothing.

The assault occurred about a mile from houses where two women were killed in recent months.

Marion Newman, 74, was found dead inside her home in the 7100 block of Reservoir Road about 11:15 a.m. Nov. 21. A friend said she had missed a dinner appointment a day earlier.

Police found signs of a struggle but no forced entry.

At about 6:10 p.m. on Aug. 14, a friend found Marion Barbara Marshall, 72, slain inside her home two miles away in the 6600 block of Bostwick Drive.

Both women had been beaten to death.

“All it does is make people alert in the Springfield area,” said Mrs. Marshall’s neighbor, Logan Cotterall, 80.

Police would not say whether they have any evidence linking the killings, but investigators say the similarities of the crimes and the locations of the homes suggest the perpetrator was the same.

Investigators said the killer likely had close ties to the Crestwood and Edsall Park communities, where the women lived.

Police have not speculated on a motive.

Investigators are looking for a custom-made diamond ring they say Mrs. Newman was wearing when she was killed. The white gold band features a leaf design, and three diamonds are set side by side.

Investigators do not think robbery was the motive because valuable items were left untouched at the scenes of each of the killings.

Police have asked anyone with information about the ring or about anyone they think might be involved in the crime to call them at 703/691-2131 or Crime Solvers at 1-866/411-TIPS.

The families of Mrs. Marshall and Mrs. Newman have posted a $26,000 reward for information about the cases.

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