- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2000

Alexandria, Va., police yesterday canvassed the city in search of fresh leads precisely one week after an unknown attacker fatally knifed 8-year-old Kevin Shifflett.

"Maybe some of the people that came through last Wednesday would come through today," Officer Curtis McClish said yesterday, explaining they hope to find someone who may not live in the area but who would have been there when the attack occurred.

Members of the Alexandria SWAT team, dressed in black fatigues, set up a check point at the corner of East Custis and Clyde avenues, a few hundred feet from the crime scene.

More than 30 officers, some with canine units, passed out fliers and questioned residents in the Del Ray community and the surrounding area.

Police have received more than 300 tips but have made no arrests in the apparently random attack.

All information collected yesterday will be entered into an FBI software program that analyzes and cross-references data and helps create a timeline.

Despite yesterday's efforts and the extra shifts many officers worked over Easter weekend, some residents are doubtful police will find the attacker.

"I don't think they're ever going to catch him," said one neighbor, who did not want to be identified.

Nevertheless, a reward started by the Potomac West Business Association, a group of residents and businesses in the area, has grown to more than $41,000.

"Money is pouring in from all over the metropolitan area," said Lt. John Crawford, a police spokesman. "We are extremely grateful for the outpouring."

Kevin had been playing with others outside his great-grandparents' house in the 100 block of East Custis Avenue about 3:40 p.m. April 19 when a man walking down the street suddenly attacked him with a knife.

Kevin's 80-year-old great-grandmother, Thelma Taylor, ran out of the house to protect him, but the man punched her and cut her right arm.

She was treated for her wounds and released from the hospital later that night. However, she has since returned with further complications.

The attacker also cut a 51-year-old woman who was passing by and tried to intervene. Her condition is fair and continues to improve, although officials would not say whether she is still hospitalized.

Police are hesitant to report on their whereabouts because they are witnesses in the case.

Neighbors along East Custis Avenue are buzzing with their own theories about what happened. But as the police make public appeals for information, residents say their fear and apprehension are turning to anger.

They are upset that no one has offered police a substantial tip about a murder that took place near a busy roadway in a neighborhood where delivery trucks often rumble by and women push strollers throughout the day.

"I think people are sort of angry now," said Stanley Douglas, 36. "It sort of lingers in my mind. You don't know where [the killer is] at."

Most notably, police have pleaded to hear from two taxicab drivers who may have given the killer a ride. At about the same time of the stabbing last Wednesday and just a block southeast, two cabs waited at a taxi stand at the intersection of Mount Vernon and Windsor avenues. A woman there got a ride in a blue-and-white cab after being turned away by a driver in a yellow-and-black cab.

"It just boggles my mind," said another resident, who did not give her name. "It was a beautiful day, just like today. Cars were coming and going, people coming home."

A mobile police office, similar to an RV, remains parked at Mount Vernon Avenue and Oxford Street to serve as a resource center.

The vehicle will be staffed 24 hours a day throughout this week, and possibly longer. Anyone can use it to report tips or pick up fliers with the killer's description and sketch.

The attacker is described as a black male in his 20s, between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall, and weighing between 150 and 170 pounds. He may have had a mustache and slight growth of beard. He was wearing dark pants and a brown or tan crewneck sweater at the time of the incident.

"I'm angry. But what it's done for me, it's made me more aware of my surroundings," said Roberta Trout, 41.

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