April 19th, 2010
04:39 PM ET

New lead in murdered principal case

Program Note: Don't miss Randi Kaye's report on the case tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/19/bettspic.jpg width=292 height=320]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Two unknown individuals were seen exiting a vehicle owned by a Washington, DC public school principal a day before he was found shot to death in his home, authorities said.

The Montgomery County Police Department, which has ruled the death of Brian Betts, 42, as a homicide, said the two people were observed getting out of the victim’s 2007 Nissan Xterra last Wednesday afternoon between noon and 3pm. The navy blue SUV was discovered abandoned the following morning on a Washington street.

Betts, who led the Shaw Middle School, did not show up for work that same Thursday. According to the authorities, a concerned colleague “entered the home, observed a light, observed a light on, exited the residence, and called the police.

Offices who arrived at the scene found his body. Investigators said he suffered “from at least one gunshot wound.”

Police, who said they had no description of the individuals seen leaving Betts’ vehicle, have also developed a timeline of the victim. Officer Brenner told CNN Betts was alive as of Wednesday, April 14 at 11:30pm.

Authorities have not ruled out the possibility that Betts may have known his assailant. “We’re looking into all of those things,” said Officer Brenner. “I don’t think we’ve narrowed down one.”

In an unsettling revelation, Officer Brenner said the home that Betts lived in was the scene of a double homicide in 2002. She said a man and his daughter were murdered in the home and that an arrest had been made. “There is no connection,” she added. “It’s just a weird coincidence.”

The death of Betts, who was a popular educator among faculty and students, has shaken the school community. “He was an inspiration al leader for the teachers and the students, and that leadership was bringing results,” said a statement by the District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. “He knew what the children under his care were capable of, and he was determined to show them how to get there. Brian Betts’ death is an incredible loss of a young and dedicated school leader.”

Past and current students, as well as employee members have posted online their thoughts and memories of the murdered principal.

“Mr. Betts was one of those teachers you could never forget,” wrote one former student. “Yes, he was a teacher, a figure of authority, but he felt more like an older brother, and made us feel comfortable about coming to him about almost anything….Our area has lost an amazing person.”

Anyone with information on the death of Brian Betts is asked to contact the Montgomery County Police at 240-773-5070.

For more crime coverage go to cnn.com/crime.

Filed under: Crime • Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Mike in NYC

    The individuals were seen, but the cops have no description. Um ... OK.

    April 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm |