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Brian Betts Update: Four Suspects Arrested in Killing of D.C. Principal

Brian Betts District of Columbia Public Schools

Deontra Q. Gray (Montgomery County Police)
WASHINGTON (CBS) Three more suspects in the murder of Brian Betts, a respected inner city principal in Washington D.C., were arrested Monday in early morning raids, and Montgomery County police say that Betts may have been targeted through a phone chat line.

Alante Saunders and Sharif Tau Lancaster. (Washington County Police)
Alante Saunders and Sharif Tau Lancaster of Washington, both 18, are now facing first degree murder charges. Lancaster's mother, Artura Williams, was charged with using Betts' stolen credit card at a Giant grocery store in Silver Spring, Md., the day after he was found shot to death in his home.

A third suspect, Deontra Gray, 18, has been charged with one count of first degree murder, one count of armed robbery, and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. According to a statement from the Montgomery County police, Tuesday, it was determined that Gray was in Betts' home at the time of the killing.

Additionally, Gray was observed in surveillance images at several businesses where transactions with Mr. Betts' stolen credit cards were made, according to the release.

Investigators say Betts met the young men on a phone sex chatline, where the suspects may have been looking for robbery targets. Betts may have even invited one of the young men to his house the night he was killed, according to police.

"It's described as an internet sex chat room, a social networking site," Chief Tom Manger says.

Betts, regarded as a visionary in the D.C. school system for turning around a failing inner city middle school, was found shot to death in his Silver Spring, Md., about 12 miles outside of D.C., April 15.

Montgomery police also said that Saunders and Lancaster had recently escaped from the custody of a Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services home, but it wasn't clear if they were considered escapees at the time Betts was killed.

Reached at her home in Calvert County, Betts' sister, Jennifer Altamore, said she was pleased with the efforts of Montgomery County Police but declined to comment further about the investigation or the possible circumstances surrounding her brother's death, according to CBS affiliate WUSA.

Chief Manger said there's a lesson for everyone in this case.

"Be careful if you meet someone on the internet," Manger said. "You won't really know who you're meeting until they show up."

MORE ON CRIMESIDER
May 3, 2010 - Brian Betts Update: Arrest in Killing of Beloved DC Principal, Cops Say More to Come
April 19, 2010 - Brian Betts, Slain D.C. Principal (Update): SUV Found 14 Miles from Home
April 16, 2010 - Shaw Middle School Principal Brian Betts Found Dead in Silver Spring Home, SUV Missing

  • Carlin Miller

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