- The Washington Times - Friday, August 9, 2002

Montgomery County Police yesterday said the slaying of two siblings in Germantown on Wednesday and the shooting deaths of a father and daughter in Silver Spring on Tuesday are unrelated and do not indicate a rise in crime in the county.

"It is very uncharacteristic in Montgomery County to experience this level of crime activity," police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said. "We want to assure citizens that none of the incidents is related to the other. Each have their own particular circumstances."

Police made a quick arrest in Wednesday's double homicide. Aurel Mich, 37, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder yesterday in the beating deaths of his live-in girlfriend, Lydia Medina, 59, and her brother, Eliezer Medina, 54.

Ms. Baur said police had been called to the 12100 block of Brittana Circle for a domestic disturbance at 10:08 p.m.

"There obviously was a dispute." Ms. Baur said, adding that officers "determined it would be better if one or the other left."

Police remained on the scene until Miss Medina, who said she had a place she could stay, drove away. But about 45 minutes later, police received a call to respond to the same address.

As officers arrived, they were flagged down by someone at the intersection of Waring Station Road and Hottinger Circle about a block from Miss Medina's home. They found Mr. Medina and Miss Medina lying dead in a grassy area, both beaten.

"Because we knew there had been a prior dispute, officers went to the residence," Ms. Baur said. There they found Mr. Mich and confiscated evidence.

Meanwhile, crime-scene investigators yesterday returned to the house of George Gregory Russell, analyzing forensic evidence such as blood spatters to help them determine what took place late Tuesday night, when Mr. Russell and his 9-year-old daughter, Erika Smith, were killed.

Police said Mr. Russell, a former deputy director of the Maryland Port Administration, called 911 about 11:30 p.m., screaming for help. Officers responding to the call kicked in the front door after they heard what they thought to be gunshots, although it remained unclear yesterday if shots were fired after police arrived.

Both Erika who lives with her mother in the District, but was visiting her father Tuesday and Mr. Russell were upstairs. Both had been shot. Erika was pronounced dead at the scene, and Mr. Russell was pronounced dead at Suburban Hospital.

Laurence Krupnak, whose back yard is adjacent to Mr. Russell's, said he had his windows open and was watching television Tuesday night when he heard what he described as a series of pops.

"I didn't know what it was," said Mr. Krupnak, 53. Following the pops, he heard a man scream, "Help, help, help," he said.

Ms. Baur said police have not determined whether the deaths are the result of a double homicide or a murder-suicide.

"At this stage in the investigation, we do not have any definitive evidence to point in one way over the other," she said. Miss Baur said police had also not found a gun in the house.

"While we have not at this point located a possible weapon, we have not been able to do a thorough search of the crime scene because we had to leave it fairly pristine for our forensic experts," she said.

Family members yesterday morning left balloons, bouquets, stuffed animals and candles at the base of a tree in the front yard one corner of an area cordoned off by crime-scene tape.

Ms. Baur said police have asked the county medical examiner to expedite autopsy results, which will include an analysis of Mr. Russell's hands for gunpowder residue.

The homicides bring the county total, which for now includes Erika Smith but not Mr. Russell, to 17 for the year.

The county had 19 homicides last year.

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