Slain Principal Last Seen Grilling at Home Wednesday

Car abandoned Friday afternoon, police believe

The last time police can say a popular principal was alive was at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. Neighbors reported seeing him grilling at his home.

Brian Betts, 42, the principal at Shaw at Garnet-Patterson Middle School in northwest Washington, didn't show up for school Thursday. Usually, he would stand on the corner greeting arriving students.

A concerned coworker went to his home in the 9300 block of Columbia Boulevard in Silver Spring that evening and found the door unlocked and a light on in a bedroom and called police.

Police found Betts's body in a second-floor bedroom, and his SUV was missing. The SUV was found Saturday in Southeast. Police believe it was abandoned there between noon and 3 p.m. Friday by two unidentified people.

Other items of value are missing from the home, but police did not specify what they are.

Police don't believe the slaying was random, though they can't rule that out. The medical examiner ruled it a homicide by gunshot.

Police are looking at Betts's computer to see what he may have been doing online prior to his death and to see if a personal classifieds website has anything to do with the death.

Betts, a former middle school assistant principal in Montgomery County Schools, was hand-picked by DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee to turn the middle school around.

Betts' home was the scene of a double-murder in 2002. Then-home owner Greg Russell and his 9-year-old daughter, Erika Smith, were shot and killed in their home. Anthony Kelly was found guilty of murdering both of them.

Anyone with information is asked to call homicide detectives at 240-773-5070.

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