- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 25, 2001

Prince George's County police and residents are puzzled over the escalation of killings in the past three weeks, which pushed the year's total to 114 and shows no sign of slowing down during the holiday season.
There have been 12 slayings since Dec. 2, the latest involving an elderly man, Prince George's County police said yesterday. The man, Lloyd Ernest Bond, 71, of Croom, was found in his home Sunday night shot to death by a man who claimed to be coming over to purchase a watch Mr. Bond had advertised in a local newspaper. The gunman also shot Mr. Bond's 62-year-old wife, who is in serious condition at a local hospital. Police are not releasing her name or the hospital for fear the suspect may try to harm her.
"Our detectives are working on the homicide that occurred in Croom, Md., last night, but there are no suspects at this time," said Cpl. Diane Richardson, spokeswoman for Prince George's County police.
The Washington Times reported in the Dec. 2 editions that Prince George's County had logged 102 homicides.
Maj. Gary A. Corso said he wasn't sure why the county was seeing the "sharp spike" this year, but pointed to the "violent mix" of drugs and guns and their easy availability around the region.
Among the victims are three reported in the weeks leading up to December. Two men died in separate shootings in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, and a woman's remains were found in a ditch in Landover. No arrests have been made in those cases.
Cpl. Richardson said on Dec. 14 a group of suspects were traveling up and down University Boulevard in Hyattsville and stabbed three persons. One victim died.
On Sunday, two men were found dead in a parked car behind Prince George's Plaza in the Belcrest Apartments parking lot. Police said there was no evidence of foul play and the bodies were being examined by the Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore.
Cpl. Richardson said in 2000, Prince George's tallied 70 slayings.
Residents in communities along the D.C. border from Route 1 to Pennsylvania Avenue where the recent rash of killings has occurred are nervous. Most are puzzled. But some have explanations or ideas where the crime is coming from and what the motives are.
Benjamin F. Harris, 41, a county resident who lives on Riggs Road near University Boulevard, said it's drugs and that a turf war is spreading.
"It's a phase this area is going through. [The killings are] an offshoot of the drugs and movements of the dealers," Mr. Franklin said.
Mr. Franklin mentioned the stabbings spree on University Boulevard. But he said the problem is primarily located near low-income apartments along the borders of the District and Prince George's and Montgomery counties. He said the drug trade is thriving there with dealers from the three areas fighting over turf.
James White, 53, a Brentwood resident, said the crime in his neighborhood up to Bladensburg is going out of control.
"The whole deal in P.G. County is related to drugs and guns. I hate to say it, but it's mostly guys my son's age," Mr. White said.
"I know they are not all criminals, because my son isn't, but it's hard when you see so many young men getting into trouble with drugs and shootings over turf."
The District's 205 homicides this year represent an 8 percent drop compared with this time last year. But that figure includes a rash of 70 killings since September 11. Montgomery County had 18 to date this year, up from 12 last year.

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