2018 Recap—Charles County

Lexington Park, MD - Here’s a month-by-month review of the Charles County stories that made news in 2018.

January - The body of Swanda R. Dunn, 57, was found on Old Washington Road Jan. 17. Her son Mario, who has yet to go to trial, was charged with her murder. A man became disorderly Jan. 22 during a meeting at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School and assaulted several people before trying to leave. A school resource officer stopped the man with an electronic control device. The accused received probation before judgment for disorderly conduct. On Jan. 27, a 33-year-old man whose wife had just obtained a protective order against him, entered her White Plains home. Police reported he shot her and then himself to death. The estranged couple’s three small children hid in the basement when they heard the gunshots.

February - On Feb. 11 a St. Mary’s County man tried to burn down his ex-girlfriend’s La Plata home. Sean Michael Rice, 30, was charged with attempted second-degree arson. In February, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Charles Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Hill for permitting the abuse allegedly inflicted on several children by for teacher and coach Carlos Deangelo Bell, 30 of Waldorf. On Feb 16, a Pontiac Grand Prix veered off Route 6 and struck a tree, resulting in the death of the driver, Derek Anthony Carroll of Waldorf. On Feb. 17, Brandon Andrew Briscoe, 24 of Waldorf, was shot to death while standing outside an apartment building. On Feb. 18, a Waldorf man was shot to death by his live-in girlfriend, Tiffany Jade Smith, who claimed the shooting was an accident. Smith was charged with first-degree murder and is awaiting a late February trial. Late in the month, the January death of a 22-year-old Waldorf man was ruled a murder. Deandre Nicholson was found on the side of Middletown Road in White Plains.

March - Winter Storm Riley clobbers the Mid-Atlantic, resulting in several downed trees and thousands of power outages for Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) customers. At its height, the nor’easter prompted authorities to shut down the Harry Nice Bridge. On March 7, a judge sentenced Darren Anthony Wimbush, 35 of Waldorf; to three consecutive life sentences plus 60 consecutive years for sex abuse of a minor. On March 14, Waldorf resident Donald Russell, 53, was sentenced to five years in prison in connection with a “pill mill” operation. That same day a Piccowaxen Middle School student was charged with making a threat of mass violence after sending an email that stated “something bad would happen” if school wasn’t closed for the following two days. On March 21, an early evening fire sparked by flames from an outdoor pit damaged a Waldorf house. Three nights later, a Cobb Island house sustained $200,000 damage, displacing four people. 

April - A Charles County judge sentenced Carlos Deangelo Bell to 190 years for multiple sex abuse counts. On April 5, a U.S. Park policeman used his service firearm at his Indian Head home. Jose Bumbray shot his wife Brenda and then himself, to death. The couple’s son was in the house at the time. On April 15, two Virginia brothers died in a Potomac River boating accident near Newburg. The brothers’ vessel was found overturned before their bodies were located. On April 18, a Waldorf teen lost control of his pickup truck on Marshal Corner Road. The truck struck a tree and the young man was pronounced dead at the scene. April 19 was a day Charles County’s volunteer firefighters were busy. Several cars were set ablaze at a Waldorf dealership. Then a popular riverside restaurant in Benedict was totally destroyed in a blaze sparked by discarded smoking materials. The damage estimate was around $1 million. Towards the end of the month Kentyra Harris of Waldorf was indicted after she attempted to steal a 3-year-old boy from his mother. Harris’ trial is now set for late March

May - A local rapper was shot to death May 1 in a Waldorf apartment complex. Antonio Lamount Harper Jr. sustained multiple gunshot wounds. Lafayette R. Crutchfield, 44 of La Plata was sentenced to 48 years in prison for sex offenses involving children. Three people died May 16 on Route 234 in Newburg after an SUV ran a stop sign and collided with a dump truck. The Charles County Commissioners adopted a balanced $404.6 million FY 2019 budget without raising property and income tax rates. Towards the end of May, a former Charles County Public Schools music instructor, Ralph Marvin Vandyke, 59; was indicted on nine counts of inappropriate encounters with a female student.

June - At the beginning of the month a former substitute teacher at a Charles County middle school, Keith A. Krikstan, was indicted for inappropriate contact with a female student, second-degree rape and possession of child porn. The at-fault driver in a Waldorf crash that resulted in the death of a baby was indicted for automobile manslaughter. Michael M. Ford’s trial is scheduled for early March. On June 16, a boat seen turning in circles near Cobb Island led the discovery of two bodies. The two boaters from Silver Spring were not wearing lifejackets. The Charles County Primary Election brings change. Veteran State Senator Mac Middleton loses the District 28 Democratic Primary to challenger Arthur Ellis. Commissioners’ President Peter Murphy finishes third in a three-man Democratic Primary.

July - A grim discovery was made at Gilbert Run Park July 1. An adult male and a small child were found dead inside a pickup truck. The incident was ruled a murder suicide. Charles Leon Thompson Jr., 34 of Waldorf was sentenced to 40 years for his role in a February 2017 armed robbery at a Waldorf bar. A woman died from her injuries during the incident. On July 3, a 50-year-old Waldorf man died in a house fire on Berry’s Hill Road. On July 21, flood waters many Charles County roads impassable. Bill Dotson, who won a spot on the Republican District 28 House of Delegates slate agreed to run for the State Senate instead after Primary winner John Leonard bows out. Vegan, anyone? La Plata’s famous restaurant, Casey Jones, was sold and underwent a name and menu change. A U.S. District judge sentences Caleb Andrew Bailey to 200 months in prison for illegal possession of guns and child porn. A local judge sentenced Brian Javier Aquice to life plus 50 years for the 2016 murder of Michael Beers and the assault of two other people.

August - Miguel A. Santana of Waldorf was sentenced to 105 years behind bars for the 2016 murder of Thomas Tibbs. Frank B. Ngosso was sentenced Aug. 7 to 30 years for sex abuse of a minor. Police investigated an attempted murder/suicide on Gallery Place in Waldorf. The incident was domestic-related and the female victim’s injuries proved non-life-threatening. A 30-year-old Waldorf man was killed Aug. 17 after a collision on Middletown Road. The second “Ride For Jeff” begins on the month’s last Sunday morning in Hughesville. The event raised awareness for post-traumatic stress disorder.

September - In the wake of Hurricane Flo, Charles County Volunteer Fire Rescue and Emergency Medical Services personnel are deployed to North Carolina. In the span of two days two pedestrians were killed in accidents on Route 5 and in Nanjemoy. September sentencings in local court included a La Plata man found guilty of viciously assaulting his ex-girlfriend and a former lifeguard for child sex abuse.

October - An Oct. 3 shooting in Waldorf claimed the life of Elisha A. Cole, 17.  Another Waldorf teen, Destanee K. Lyles lost her life in an early October crash in Port Tobacco that injured several other motorists. Governor Larry Hogan visits Southern Maryland and announced that Senator Mac Middleton will have his name on the Nice Bridge replacement span. On Oct. 22, a Waldorf family escaped a house fire. No injuries reported and the cause of the blaze was accidental.  On Oct. 25 Marcus D. Johnson, 34 of Nanjemoy, was sentenced to 64 years in prison for murdering his neighbor.

November - Daniel Juwan Butler was sentenced to six years for a late 2017 motor vehicle crash that killed a 21-year Hughesville woman. Charles County’s latest pedestrian fatality occurred Nov. 14 on Route 5 in Waldorf. The victim was a 71-year-old Prince George’s man. After a two-day search, authorities locate the body of Walter Junior Carroll II, 36 of Nanjemoy in a creek. Police found no signs of foul play. Two sisters were charged with a home invasion and a double stabbing. The incident happened at an Indian Head house. A child who had just exited a school bus in Bryantown was struck by a vehicle. The incident remains under investigation with no charges filed. On Nov. 29 Brian Douglas Pierce, 36 of Indian Head, was sentenced to 65 years in prison for the second-degree murder of Robert Branson and for assaulting another man.

December - A 50-year-old Waldorf man was killed Dec. 2, in a noon hour motorcycle crash on Poplar Hill Road.  A Dec. 9 fire at South Winds Motel in La Plata claimed the life of an unidentified woman. On Dec. 13 Kelly Yvonn Young, 61 of Hollywood to five years in prison for the 2015 death of motorcyclist Robert Maguire of Broomes Island. During the soggy weekend of Dec. 15-16, Charles County experienced an overflow of untreated wastewater of approximately 33,000 gallons from a manhole adjacent to Mattawoman Creek in the area of the Mattawoman Wastewater Treatment Plant. On Dec. 16, an off-duty Charles County police officer was stabbed in a Fort Washington bar. Prince George’s cop make a quick arrest. On Dec. 17, the new Charles County Board of Education is sworn in at a well-attended ceremony.

Contact Marty Madden at

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