- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2012

The killing of a 66-year-old tourist this week could be related to two other violent attacks that occurred within 26 hours of the fatal beating in the Petworth area, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said Thursday.

A 53-year-old man and 37-year-old woman sustained severe head trauma in attacks within a 10-block radius from where Gary Dederichs of Denver was found dead with blunt force trauma to the head Tuesday. The other two victims remain hospitalized; the man is in critical condition.

“It appears, at least preliminarily, all three victims were walking alone at the time of attack,” Chief Lanier said. “It appears that the victims may have been attacked suddenly and without provocation.”

Mr. Dederichs, a tourist who planned to stay in the area for two weeks, was renting an apartment in the Northwest neighborhood where he was attacked. He was found dead in an alley in the 800 block of Emerson Street in Northwest around 6 p.m. Tuesday.

A bus driver found the 53-year-old man lying in the roadway in the 4800 block of Georgia Avenue around 3 a.m. Wednesday. Police reports indicate he sustained trauma to the back left side of his head and was bleeding severely. The man was “conscious and breathing but incoherent and unable to say what had occurred,” a police report states. Chief Lanier said that initially police thought he had been hit by a car.

The woman was attacked less than a block from her home, in the 5600 block of 9th Street in Northwest around 8:40 p.m. Wednesday. A person struck her from behind with an object as she was walking on the sidewalk, according to a police report. She received a severe cut to the right side of her forehead.

While police initially indicated they were looking into robbery as a motive in the attack on Mr. Dederichs, Chief Lanier said Thursday that investigators have found nothing to support that.

“We have no obvious indication of any motive at this time in any of these cases,” she said.

Chief Lanier declined to say what type of weapon might have been used against the three victims or whether any sort of weapon has been recovered.

As police continue to investigate the violent attacks, they warned residents against walking alone and encouraged them to report any suspicious behavior they see in the area.

“Since it appears all these individuals were alone at the time, we are asking that residents in the area walk in pairs or in groups if at all possible,” Chief Lanier said.

Council member Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Democrat, headed to Petworth in the early evening on Thursday to speak with residents in the area where the incidents occurred.

“This is not frequent behavior in the neighborhood,” she said. “Any time there is an assault or homicide in the neighborhood, people are on edge.”

Ms. Bowser said it is key that police “flooded the area” with information about the incidents. She encouraged residents to report any suspicious activity that they witness near the locations of the prior attacks.

• Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report

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