Saying they were there to do work, the four talked their way inside the apartment. They walked around, as if inspecting the place, but provided only vague answers to the residents’ questions before one stranger turned to the others.
“Do you want to do this now or another time?” he asked.
“I’m ready,” another said.
With that, they attacked — the beginning of 11 terrifying hours for a family tied up and held captive overnight in their Silver Spring, Md., apartment, according to court documents filed in Montgomery County.
The family was targeted, police say, because at least one of the intruders knew that a woman at the apartment worked at a check- cashing store; holding her at knifepoint, the intruders demanded she turn over store keys and an alarm code.
On Monday, the final suspect charged in the home invasion — the four initial attackers allegedly were joined by a fifth — is expected to make his first court appearance.
The suspects were charged with offenses including home invasion, armed robbery, false imprisonment and theft.
The five suspects, who are 16 to 26 years old, had been living in Maryland. One was born in Baghdad, where threats from terrorists had prompted his family to flee to the United States, according to an attorney who represented him.
“He’s really lived a model life since coming over,” the attorney for Younus Muayad Jafar Alaameri, 23, of Silver Spring, told a judge earlier this month.
Court records present a different view and allege that during the Aug. 1 home invasion, Alaameri and the others threatened a family with knives and a baseball bat. They handcuffed and tied up their victims, blindfolded one man, and demanded the keys and code, police say.
“Open your head and listen to me,” one of the men allegedly told the woman who worked at the check-cashing store, lifting a knife to her face. “I’m going to ask you one more time for the password to the alarm. I’m going to count to three. If you don’t answer, I’m going to remove your eye.”
Over the course of the night, three attackers took the woman to the business in her red Ford van, couldn’t get in, returned to the apartment, drove back to the business, again couldn’t get in and circled back to the apartment.
In the morning, one of the intruders loosened the restraints on a man who had been bound facedown all night, moving his cuffed hands from his back to his front and removing a blindfold. Another intruder attacked the man, cutting his face and neck, according to police accounts, but the victim grabbed one of his attacker’s knives and fought back, which sent the assailants fleeing.
“This is a terrible, terrible home invasion robbery,” Assistant State’s Attorney Ashley Inderfurth said in court Thursday, adding that the suspects entered the apartment “through subterfuge” and held the victims hostage all night.
Police say four adults were in the apartment — two men and two women — with a 7-year-old boy who had gone to bed before the attack and may have slept through much of the events. At some point, according to court records, the intruders stole money from his piggy bank. They also are accused of stealing an iPhone, credit cards, $2,000 in cash and the Ford van, valued at $6,000, according to charging documents.
In court documents, the five suspects were identified as Alaameri; Bobby Jamar Johnson, 26; Karon “Momo” Sayles, 24 at the time of his arrest; Dalik Daniel Oxely, 19; and Edwin Ajeo, 16, who was charged as an adult. All were being held in jail without bond as of Sunday, according to jail officials. None has presented a defense in court yet.
At 8:12 a.m. on Aug. 2, one of the victims called 911 from the red-brick apartment building along Manchester Road, about one mile east of downtown Silver Spring. Arriving paramedics treated one resident — the man who had been cut in the face and neck. He was taken to a hospital for injuries that were not considered to be life-threatening.
He told detectives that the night before, he’d seen a group of men outside as he came home. Moments later, about 9 p.m., they knocked on the door. One of the strangers said they were there “to do some work on the apartment,” according to court records, and after the residents began asking questions, the attack was unleashed.
The woman who worked at the check-cashing business would later tell detectives that she recognized one of the men from having been in the business. She agreed to help detectives look through records at the business, leading to a name: Alaameri, court files show.
He was arrested two days later, and in court on Aug. 7, an attorney representing him, Jeff Zahler, asked that a bond be set that would allow Alaameri to be released from custody pending further court actions.
Zahler said that Alaameri had been a Mercedes-Benz mechanic in Iraq but that he and his family left because of threats. He said Alaameri is married with young children, has no previous criminal record and works as a chef in Virginia.
“Both his father and mother are ill and depend on him and his income,” Zahler said.
Zahler said there was scant evidence tying Alaameri to the crime.
District Judge John C. Moffett ordered Alaameri held without a bond.
Detectives arrested the others over the past five days.
Oxely’s attorney said at his bond hearing that he had no previous record and that there wasn’t a clear case against the Suitland teenager in arrest records.
Sayles’s attorney also said the case against him has holes. Sayles, of Suitland, was paroled from prison in April after serving a conviction in an earlier robbery case. The attorney, John Lavigne, noted that Sayles had been abiding parole conditions.
“While in a sense it’s bad that’s he’s on parole, it appears that he was compliant in the brief time that he was in the community,” Lavigne said.
Johnson also is from Suitland, and it was not clear in court records whether he yet has an attorney.
Leonard Addison, an attorney for Ajeo, of Silver Spring, said the teenager was scheduled to start 10th grade this year.
District Judge Eric Nee ordered him held without bond, saying: “The allegations are extremely violent and extremely dangerous.”
Judges also held the other defendants without bond.
Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.