Woman arrested in connection with principal’s slaying

Investigators have arrested a woman in connection with the killing of a popular District of Columbia school principal, they said Monday.

The woman was arrested on two counts of credit card misuse “in relation to the [Brian] Betts homicide,” said Capt. Paul Starks of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Police  Department. News of the arrest comes two days after a public memorial was held for Betts, 42, the Shaw Middle School principal who was found shot to death April 15 in his Silver Spring, Maryland, house.

The woman, 46, was arrested Monday morning and is being held in Washington, said Montgomery County police spokeswoman Melanie Brenner.  Brenner would not disclose the woman’s identity or reveal further details but said “there’s a good chance” of additional arrests. Brenner also added that two search warrants were served at separate Washington locations earlier Monday.

“The circumstances surrounding his death generally have led investigators to believe this was not a random crime,” Starks said. “There was no ransack. The front door was closed but unlocked. There was no forced entry in the home.”  Starks said Betts was alive up until at least 11:30 p.m. April 13. On April 16, two unidentified men were seen exiting an sport utility vehicle owned by Betts on a District of Columbia street.

Starks said detectives continue to canvass Betts’ neighborhood for information on the victim’s whereabouts on April 14.  “Our focus now is trying to get a timeline for that Wednesday evening, what he was doing, who he may have been with,” Starks said. “We continue to ask for help throughout the community and communities. People may have information that they may not believe is helpful, but give it to us and let us decide.

“This is a significant crime. … It’s very important to us. Somebody died and was killed in Montgomery County, Maryland.”   The death of Betts, who was a popular educator among faculty and students, has shaken the school community.

“He was an inspirational leader for the teachers and the students, and that leadership was bringing results,” said District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee in a statement. “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 school employees have posted their thoughts and memories of the slain principal online.  “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.”

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