Crime and Courts

Victim in Bethesda Shopping Mall Homicide Was Stabbed During Robbery: Police

One of the suspects and the victim lived in the same group home in Montgomery County, according to the police report. 

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The man found dead in a stairwell at a Bethesda, Maryland, shopping mall was fatally stabbed during a robbery Sunday, a day before he was found by officers, according to charging documents. 

Montgomery County police identified the victim Wednesday as 33-year-old Lawrence Richard Wilson Jr.  

Blaise Uchemadu, 18, and two minors, ages 16 and 17, who NBC Washington is not naming due to their age, have been accused of the killing.

Wilson's body was found by police at about 8:15 p.m. Monday in a stairwell at the Shops of Wisconsin, after a family member of one of the suspects contacted authorities and said the boy had confessed to a homicide, according to charging documents. 

The documents also state that on that same night, the 17-year-old suspect walked into a police station and declared that he had witnessed a stabbing the previous day.

According to authorities, surveillance video from the shopping center captured the three suspects and the victim going into the stairwell. Around 17 minutes later, the teenagers can be seen running away together from that area of the mall. At no point, detectives note, does the victim reappear on camera.

The landing at the bottom of the stairwell where the victim was discovered is not visible from the street and is hard to see from other parts of the shopping center.

During an interview, the 17-year-old suspect told detectives that he and Uchemadu had gone to the Target intending to steal two ounces of marijuana from Wilson. He said he was there to intimidate the victim, but at some point during the robbery, one of the suspects handed another a knife, and Wilson “was stabbed and killed,” the documents state.

The 17-year-old also provided information that helped identify the 16-year-old boy and Uchemadu, according to charging documents. Police said that they were able to link the suspects to the crime through evidence found during the investigation. 

All three suspects have been charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, police said. They are being held without bond.

All three teenagers lived together and were part of the residential adolescent program at the National Center for Children and Families (NCCF) on Greentree Road in Bethesda, the nonprofit said in a statement to NBC Washington.

"This tragedy far outweighs the severity of any incidents which have occurred since 1973 when the program was initially developed," the statement said. "NCCF as an agency has stepped to this challenge, cooperating fully with authorities throughout their investigation."

Anyone with information is asked to call Montgomery County police at 240-773-5070.

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