North Bethesda Man Arrested – Charged With Multiple Sex Offenses

Austin Blaine Vann

Detectives from the Montgomery County Department of Police – Special Victims Investigations Division have charged Austin Blaine Vann, age 29, of the 11500 block of Old Georgetown Road in North Bethesda with multiple sex offenses stemming from incidents that occurred in January 2019 and October 2017.

In July of 2017, the unnamed victim met Vann at a party.  She had placed some items in Vann’s vehicle but failed to retrieve them.  The victim contacted Vann to retrieve the items.  In October 2017, Vann met the victim at her residence but did not bring the belongings.  Vann stated that the victim needed to accompany him to his apartment in the area of the 11500 block of Old Georgetown Road to get the items.  The victim walked to the door of the apartment, but waited while Vann entered the apartment to get the items.  Vann then pulled her into the apartment and assaulted the victim and attempted to rape her.  The apartment was vacated and empty.  Vann left the area after the crime and was arrested in California on March 1, 2018, and extradited back to Maryland.

Vann was charged with Attempted 1st Degree Rape, Attempted 2nd Degree Rape, 1st Degree Assault, 2nd Degree Assault, and a 4th Degree Sex Offense.  Vann was subsequently released on bond.

On January 8, 2019, a second victim met “Austin” at a local restaurant in North Bethesda.  The victim had met “Austin” via social media and had been communicating with him via text messages.  While drinking at the bar with “Austin”, she left her drink unattended several times while visiting the restroom.  The victim then found herself in a bathroom in an apartment building with Vann engaging in sexual intercourse without her consent.  The victim had no recollection of leaving the bar and was not sure where she was located.  The victim was found in the area of the 11500 block of Old Georgetown Road.  Investigators were able to determine that “Austin” was Austin Blaine Vann.  Vann was out on bond and awaiting trial when the incident occurred in January 2019.

Vann was arrested on March 25, 2019, and charged with 2nd Degree Rape.  Vann is currently committed at the Montgomery County Detention Center awaiting trial.

Investigators are concerned there may be additional victims related to encounters with Austin Blaine Vann due to his use of social media platforms to engage victims.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5400.

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CTJ

 

Clarksburg Man Arrested in Virginia on Homicide Charges; Tied to Two Incidents in Montgomery County

Muhammad Taha

The Montgomery County Department of Police – 5th and 6th District Investigative Sections, have charged Muhammad Taha, age 29, of the 23300 block of Observation Drive in Clarksburg, with crimes related to two incidents occurring in Germantown and Gaithersburg.  The same individual was arrested in Prince William County, Virginia, and charged with 2nd Degree Murder, Felony Hit & Run, and other charges for events that occurred on March 24, 2019, in the Manassas area.

On March 22, 2019, officers from the 6th District responded to the Islamic Center of Maryland Mosque located at 19411 Woodfield Road in Gaithersburg, for the report of an injured person.  Investigation revealed that the victim was walking on the property when he was struck by a vehicle which then fled the area.  The victim was taken to a local hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.  Surveillance footage was able to capture parts of the incident.  A description of the vehicle and evidence was recovered on the scene.

On March 24, 2019, officers from the 5th District responded to the Islamic Society of Germantown located at 19825 Blunt Road in Germantown, for the report of a suspicious situation.  Investigation revealed a vehicle had been seen circling the parking lot before the driver exited the vehicle and used a brick to vandalize a parked vehicle in the lot.  The driver then drove away from the scene after striking an additional parked car.

Later in the day on March 24, 2019, the same suspect struck and killed a woman with his vehicle in the area of the 9600 block of Cloverhill Road, in Manassas, Virginia.  Prince William County Police, based off of a lookout placed by the Manassas City Police, were able to find the vehicle and suspect matching the description of the homicide nearby.  Muhammad Taha was arrested and charged with 2nd Degree Murder, Felony Hit & Run and other charges related to the incident.

Detectives from the 5th and 6th District Investigative Sections have now connected all the events to Muhammed Taha.  Taha has been charged with following offenses:

CR 2-206  Attempted 2nd Degree Murder

CR 3-202 1st Degree Assault

CR 6-301  Malicious Destruction of Property (2 counts)

Representatives of all six police districts have been in communication with the Mosques within Montgomery County since the initial event occurred.

Detectives believe these are isolated events related directly to Taha who remains in the Prince William County Adult Detention Center on a no bond status.

The Montgomery County Department of Police wish to thank the Manassas City Police Department and the Prince William County Police for their assistance with this case.

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CTJ

Montgomery County Department of Police Release Review Memorandum of June 11, 2018, Police Involved Shooting Incident

The Montgomery County Department of Police, at the direction and authorization by County Executive Marc Elrich, is releasing the document entitled, “Review of Officer Involved Shooting on June 11, 2018.”

The document consists of a memorandum that was transmitted to County Executive Marc Elrich by Chief of Police, J. Thomas Manger.  The memorandum is a summary and review of the event that occurred on June 11, 2018, between Officer Anand Badgujar and Mr. Robert White on Three Oaks Drive in Silver Spring.  Officer Badgujar was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office after they reviewed the criminal investigation into the incident.

The document is available to view at the following link

Report -Officer Involved Shooting June 11, 2018

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CTJ

Police Officer Suffers Medical Emergency in Wheaton

Today, officers from Montgomery County Department of Police – 4th District responded to the Westfield Wheaton Mall for the report of a theft in progress.

While on the scene investigating the incident, one of the responding officers suffered a medical emergency and collapsed.  Other officers on the scene immediately began administering first-aid to the downed officer.

Personnel from the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Services responded to the scene and provided care and transported the officer to the Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring.  The officer remains in critical but stable condition.

Acting Chief Russell Hamill commended the efforts of the officers on the scene to come to the aid of another officer in distress.  Additionally, he thanked the MCFRS personnel who came to the aid of the officer and provided exemplary service to a fellow public safety professional.  Hamill went on to thank the community for the outpouring of support witnessed during this time of concern.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

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CTJ

Concern for Missing Woman from Chevy Chase

Lora Liao

Update: April 1, 2019 – Lora Liao has been located safe and unharmed.

Detectives from the Montgomery County Department of Police – 2nd District Investigative Section are asking the public for help in locating a missing Chevy Chase woman.

Lora Liao , age 18 of 8900 block of Montgomery Avenue in Chevy Chase, was last seen at approximately 9:00 p.m. this evening at her residence.  Liao is described as an Asian female, 5″1″ tall and weighing 137 pounds. She has black hair, brown eyes, and wears glasses.  She was last seen wearing blue pants and a white sweater as well as a black, shiny knee length coat with a leather jacket underneath.

 

Police and family are concerned for Liao’s welfare.

Anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of Lora Liao is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (24 hours).

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CTJ