ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — An 11-year-old Maryland boy found dead in the woods last month was beaten in the head with a baseball bat that was left near the child’s body, and the stepfather will be charged in the killing, prosecutors said Thursday.
Curtis M. Lopez is already charged with killing his estranged wife, Jane McQuain, and prosecutors said they plan to charge him in the death of her son William, who was found Oct. 18 following a massive manhunt by police officers and volunteers.
Lopez, a 45-year-old convicted felon, was ordered held without bond Thursday in McQuain’s death after a prosecutor described the attacks as ghastly and violent against “two innocent, unarmed people.” Lopez was arrested last month at a Charlotte, N.C., hotel, where authorities say he had fled with McQuain’s car. He was returned to Maryland this week to face charges.
Jane McQuain, 51, was found dead in the bedroom of the apartment she shared with her son in Germantown, about 30 miles northwest of Washington, on the night of Oct. 12. The pair had not been seen at school or work since Sept. 30, and an Amber Alert was issued after police found McQuain’s body, but not William.
McQuain was attacked with a 30-pound weight found in the apartment and stabbed through the blankets of her bed, said Deputy State’s Attorney John Maloney. Authorities believe she was killed while asleep.
On the morning of Oct. 1, Lopez picked up William from a friend’s home where he had spent the night, prosecutors said. Video footage recorded that morning shows Lopez and William going in and out of a storage facility and also at a gas station in nearby Clarksburg — about 100 yards from where the boy’s body, his skull crushed in multiple places, was found, Maloney said. The clothing William is seen wearing in the video appears to match what was found on his body when police discovered him, authorities have said.
Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy has not ruled out seeking the death penalty in the case, though he said it’s not clear if the crime meets the state’s stringent requirements for capital punishment.
Authorities have released few details on a motive, but prosecutors said Thursday that Lopez sent his current girlfriend text message pictures of McQuain’s Honda CRV and told her that he would be bringing the car to her and that it would soon be hers.
The girlfriend came to the attention of police on the night of Oct. 12 in the Charlotte area when she got into an accident while driving McQuain’s car. She told police that the car belonged to her boyfriend’s mother, and that the woman’s name was Jane, police records show.
Lopez, who spent more than a dozen years in a Pennsylvania prison for an attempted murder and who prosecutors say participated in a riot behind bars, had recently been hanging around McQuain’s apartment and was seen loading a television box from her home into her car, neighbors told police. He had been planning to sell the TV and other items from the apartment, prosecutors said.
Detectives got in touch with Lopez the night McQuain was found dead. He said he had recently been in Maryland but was now in New Jersey, though police tracked his cell phone to North Carolina, according to charging documents. He was arrested the following morning at an EconoLodge where he was staying with his girlfriend, police said.
Lopez’s public defender, Alan Drew, said the case against his client seemed thin.
“What we have is essentially circumstantial evidence,” he said. “We have no evidence whatsoever that links Mr. Lopez to this case.”
Judge Barry Hamilton said the investigation, though still incomplete, was “compelling” and called Lopez’s criminal history “horrendous.” He ordered him to remain locked up.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)