- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2001

An Aspen Hill man charged with trying to rape a woman in front of his house has confessed to the killing of a jogger five months ago along a footpath near his home, Montgomery County police said yesterday.
Albert Cook Jr., 25, is being held without bond, charged with first-degree murder in the death and sexual assault of Sue Wen Stottmeister, 48.
Mr. Cook also is charged with attempted rape in an attack Monday outside his home in the 4900 block of Aspen Hill Road — less than a mile from where police found Mrs. Stottmeisters body on Jan. 24. He is due in court today for a hearing.
Police, who had been unable to crack the high-profile case, said they hope Mr. Cook can help them solve other recent rapes and violent crimes.
However, "we certainly have no information that this arrest is connected to any of our other open homicides," said Montgomery County police Chief Charles A. Moose.
Mrs. Stottmeister, a Rockville mother of two, is one of six county women killed in the past 21 months. She died of cardiac arrest about four hours after someone assaulted her between along a Rock Creek Park Trail, where she jogged nearly everyday, police said.
Officers from the Maryland-National Capital Park Police found her still conscious and lying under trees and heavy underbrush about 50 feet off the trail. She died that evening at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.
Police Capt. Bernard Forsythe, director of the major crimes division, said officers knocked on Mr. Cooks door among others while canvassing the neighborhood after the killing.
States Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said authorities have a strong case against Mr. Bond. "He confessed in just a few hours with incredible details that only the murderer would have known."
Aside from the confession, police took Mr. Cook to the path at dawn and videotaped him as he retraced each step he took during the crime, Mr. Gansler said.
Before taking that trip, Mr. Cook got "one of the best nights of sleep he has gotten in a long time," Mr. Gansler said.
Police also have as evidence a size 16 pair of Nike Air Uptempo basketball shoes similar to those that left an imprint at the scene. The shoes were found in April in a supermarket bag behind the 4900 block of Aspen Hill Road.
Mr. Cook, who weighs 230 pounds, "has a large foot," Capt. Forsythe said.
Mr. Cook was convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault in 1996 for improperly touching a woman at a nearby shopping center. He was arrested on separate assault charges in 1997 and 1998, though never convicted.
Police refused to comment on Mr. Cooks mental health yesterday. Neighbors have reported strange behavior such as seeing him by the street talking to no one.
His latest arrest came Monday after he attacked a 49-year-old woman who was walking past his house, police said.
According to charging documents, Mr. Cook had been watching the woman, whom he did not know, for several days. When she got off a bus and walked in front of the house, Mr. Cook said "hello" to her, grabbed her by the hair and started to drag her into his home.
"The victim in this case made a lot of noise, was very affirmative in her denial to become a victim, but … was unable to deal with this matter single-handedly," Chief Moose said.
Several witnesses spotted the struggle and intervened.
"By this time, Cook had been able to pull her partially into his home despite her vigorous struggle," the charging papers state.
Residents and police helped each other find Mr. Cook at the Frost Education Center after a foot chase.
"I think this wouldnt have been possible without the involvement of private citizens willing to put themselves at risk to stop something they thought was wrong," said Officer Robert Mazzuca, who took part in the arrest.
Mrs. Stottmeister was a stay-at-home mom before she became a teachers aide at Norbeck Montessori School in Rockville. She also taught kindergarten at the Presbyterian Church of the Atonement in Silver Spring.
She jogged regularly along the path where she was killed. Neighbors said Mrs. Stottmeister knew everyone who used the trail and would stop during her runs to talk to people.
News of the arrest is beginning to put local runners, walkers and community members at ease.
"Im pretty relieved," said Cheryll Trefzger of Rockville. "I havent been able to go to the park by myself."


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