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Fourth suspect charged with murder in Betts case

Washington Post editors

Update, 1 p.m.:

Police identified the suspect as Joel Johnson, 19, of an unconfirmed address. He was charged with one count of first-degree murder, one count of armed robbery, three counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and three counts of armed robbery. Johnson is being held in the D.C. Jail pending extradition proceedings back to Montgomery County.

He was arrested Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the 100 block of Ivanhoe Street SW.

Original post:

Police have apprehended a fifth suspect in connection with the murder investigation of well-known principal Brian Betts, Montgomery County police said Wednesday morning.

The suspect was picked up Tuesday night by police in the District, and remains in custody there, said Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery police spokesman.

He did not know the suspect's name or what that person is charged with, but said he would be releasing more details soon.

It wasn't immediately clear if Montgomery homicide detectives have had a chance to question the male suspect. They are hoping he can provide more details on the motive for the killing, and how Betts came into contact with his killer or killers.

In previous questioning, the suspects didn't say much about motive, police said. Detectives believe the motive was robbery, based on having linked items stolen from Betts to the suspects.

Four people already are in custody in connection with the fatal shooting.

Sharif T. Lancaster, Alante Saunders and Deontra Q. Gray, all 18, have been charged with murder. Lancaster's mother, Artura Otey Williams, 46, is charged with trying to use Betts's credit card at a Giant Food store.

Police say Betts met one of the suspects on a national phone sex chat line and the teenagers went there to rob him.

Betts, 42, principal at Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson in D.C. and one of the public faces of education reform efforts in the District, was found dead in his Silver Spring home April 15 by colleagues worried after he failed to show up for work.

-- Dan Morse

By Washington Post editors  |  May 19, 2010; 1:10 PM ET
Categories:  Dan Morse , Homicide , Montgomery  
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