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Hyattsville man charged in Jessup motel slaying


A 27-year-old Hyattsville man was arrested yesterday on a murder charge in the strangulation of a Silver Spring man at a Jessup motel last week.

A uniformed U.S. Secret Service officer arrested Marcos Olvera Ramirez after Howard County police found him sitting on a park bench in Washington, D.C.

A Howard County warrant charges Mr. Ramirez with first-degree murder in the death of Shelton Woodrow Thigpen, a 74-year-old self-employed accountant found strangled on the floor of his room at the Cedar Motel in the 8000 block of U.S. 1 last Thursday.

Mr. Ramirez is also charged with stealing Mr. Thigpen's wallet and car.

Mr. Ramirez is to go before a federal magistrate in Washington, today to determine whether he will be extradited to Howard County.

Police spokesman Sgt. Steve Keller said the search for a suspect was focused on the 800 block of Thurman Ave. in Hyattsville, where a four-door 1990 Buick Park Avenue was reported abandoned about two hours after the body was found in Jessup.

The car was not initially linked to Mr. Thigpen's death because it hadn't been reported stolen immediately.

The body was not identified until Monday afternoon.

A motel manager investigating noise in front of Room 105 of the Cedar Motel at about 4:45 a.m. last Thursday, the morning Mr. Thigpen was found dead, reported seeing a man drive off in what appeared to be the victim's car.

County police recovered the white Buick sedan from a Prince George's County police impound lot Wednesday.

"The car gave us an area to concentrate the search on," Sergeant Keller said.

Police walked throughout the area near Thurman Avenue on Wednesday showing residents a composite sketch of the suspect.

The sketch was based on a description by a motel clerk who claimed to have seen the suspect with Mr. Thigpen before his death.

Police described the suspect as a slender Hispanic male in his 20s, 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a dark complexion, dark hair and eyes.

"Ramirez matches the description very closely," Sergeant Keller said.

A witness from a Jessup retail store reported having seen two men matching the descriptions of the pair conversing in Spanish a few hours before Mr. Thigpen was found dead.

After showing the composite sketch in several Hyattsville neighborhoods, police learned of a nickname for the suspect.

This information led to the suspect's full name and to a fingerprint match to the crime scene at the motel, police said.

Equipped with Mr. Ramirez's name and description, police began visiting areas that he was known to frequent.

They came upon him at 9:30 a.m. yesterday.

Because Howard County police cannot make an arrest in Washington, the officers flagged down a police car driven by a Secret Service officer.

The Secret Service officer then called for additional police and arrested the suspect without incident.

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