UPDATED: Police declare suspicious death a homicide

UPDATED: Police declare suspicious death a homicide
(Melissa Quinn)

City police have ruled the suspicious death of a 2700 block Holly St. man Wednesday night a homicide.

A city resident discovered  a lifeless Elmer Roehrs, 94, in his home about 6:50 p.m., officials said. He had suffered upper-body trauma and was pronounced dead on the scene by paramedics.

According to a neighbor, the home belonged to the victim’s wife. Her adult son – the victim’s stepson – found Roehrs.

The Holly Street home sits adjacent to Mansion Drive, a road flush with elaborate houses. According to the Del Ray Patch, the home’s residents reported two burglaries in 2011 alone and complained to city council about the persistent issue.

Though the home was the site of several break-ins, neighbors said the street was safe and burglaries were rare – except for at Roehrs’ home.

Jennifer Curry has lived across the street for 15 years and never encountered any problems. The mother of two said Roehrs’ wife owned several properties in the area, and aside from the burglaries at 2705 Holly St., the neighborhood was quiet. According to city records, she has lived in her Del Ray homes since 1989

Just hours after Roehrs’ body was discovered, police arrested a woman wanted for burglarizing the elderly man’s home in November. Members of the department’s tactical unit took Marie Maybell Johnson, 45, of no fixed address, into custody following a traffic stop on the 1400 block of Duke St. at 3:15 a.m. She faces burglary and grand larceny charges.

Police have not charged Johnson in connection with Roehrs’ death. She is being held at the city jail without bond.

A team of investigators began canvasing the area Thursday afternoon, looking through the victim’s trashcans, grass and backyard. Officers also scoured the yards of adjacent homes.

A gold van sat in the driveway undisturbed.

Roehrs murder marks the second time the neighborhood has been inundated with police officers and television vans – former Sheriff Jim Dunning and his wife, Nancy Dunning, lived in a home around the corner. Nancy Dunning was murdered in 2003 and her death remains unsolved.

Roehrs’ murder is the first in the city in more than a year. The most recent previous homicide occurred in October 2011 when Bob Cory McNeely, a city resident, was gunned down after an argument with Fabian Johnson. Last year was the first year without a homicide since 1970.

Authorities urge anyone with information about the incident to contact the police department’s criminal investigations section at 703-746-6711.

-Derrick Perkins and Melissa Quinn