- The Washington Times - Friday, January 11, 2002

A woman who is believed to have conspired with a State Department employee to shoot her estranged husband as he slept was arrested yesterday.

Elsa Newman, 49, was taken into custody at her suburban Washington home about 8:30 a.m. without incident, police spokesman Derek Baliles said.

Police had searched for Mrs. Newman for several days after her husband, film producer Arlen Slobodow, 51, was shot in the leg by a masked intruder at his Bethesda home early Monday morning. Mrs. Newman, a lawyer, was charged Wednesday night with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Mrs. Newman's friend, Foreign Service officer Margery Landry, 48, was charged with attempted first-degree murder for creeping into Mr. Slobodow's home and shooting him, police said.

Montgomery County authorities said Mrs. Newman had threatened during a protracted and bitter divorce to hire someone to kill Mr. Slobodow. Mrs. Newman accused her husband of abusing their two sons, an accusation Mr. Slobodow denies.

Miss Landry, a veteran State Department employee who worked with children's affairs, was denied bond. Her attorney, Henry W. Asbill, said she had served on the staffs of two secretaries of state during her 20-year career with the agency.

A college roommate of Mrs. Newman, Miss Landry was deeply involved in her friend's family, according to transcripts of a heated Sept. 4, 2001, divorce hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

The two women had owned houses together in Philadelphia and Washington, had loaned each other large amounts of money, and once took Mrs. Newman's children on a trip to London, according to charging documents.

Mr. Slobodow's attorney, Stacy Blondes, said that Miss Landry was "a player" in the case and that she often showed up at the school attended by Mr. Slobodow and Mrs. Newman's two sons. Mr. Blondes said Miss Landry would pull the children aside on those visits, often giving them medication.

Mr. Slobodow was sleeping with his 5-year-old son at 4:30 a.m. Monday when he was awakened by the intruder, who was trying to push him off the bed, he said.

Two shots were fired, and Mr. Slobodow said he felt a searing pain run through his leg. He said he struggled with the intruder and pulled off the ski mask, purportedly revealing that Miss Landry was his attacker.

The 5-year-old and the second child, who was in another room, were not injured.

A State Department spokeswoman said Miss Landry worked at the Bureau of Consular Affairs in the Office of Children's Issues. She has worked for the agency since 1980. The spokeswoman would not comment on whether the charges affected Miss Landry's job status.

At Miss Landry's bond hearing Tuesday, Assistant State's Attorney Tom Eldridge said the women may have planned to flee the country with the children.

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