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Man charged in Wheaton murder communicated with elderly victim’s ex-tenant

23-year-old Kwasi Sadler. (Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Police)

Montgomery County Police have arrested and charged a man, they say, fatally stabbed a 72-year-old woman more than 30 times in her Wheaton home.

On Tuesday, August 9, detectives assigned to the Major Crimes Unit arrested Kwasi Sadler, 23, of the 5000 block of Sheriff Road in Northeast D.C., and charged him with one count of first-degree murder.

On Wednesday, August 3, police found Linda Johnston dead inside of her modest two-story red brick home along the 2700 block of Arcola Ave. She was wrapped in a sheet and lying on a bed in a bedroom. There were between 30 and 40 cuts and stab wounds on her chest, back, stomach, groin, thighs, hands and face. Based on an askew mattress and blood spatter on the walls, police say Johnston likely fought for her life.

“She was left there to bleed out and die," said Ramon Korionoff, Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office spokesman. "She was probably alive for most of the attack."

On Monday, August 1, investigators say Sadler forced open Johnston's basement door and ascended up a stairwell where he busted through a padlocked door to access the home's main level. Sadler then grabbed a knife from a kitchen drawer and was searching for car keys when Johnston confronted him, spurring the barbaric assault.

By Wednesday afternoon, a neighbor noticed Johnston's gold 2007 Toyota Prius was missing from her driveway. He called 911 and asked for a well-being check. Police arrived to find the broken basement door with dark red blood present. Johnston’s purse, wallet and car keys were also missing.

Detectives combed the immediate area, collecting potential evidence and speaking with neighbors. One said he’d last seen Johnston on Sunday, July 31. Another neighbor reported seeing a mysterious black male at Johnston’s home around 6:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 1.

Police soon discovered that Sadler and his girlfriend, Kali Weber, 32, had allegedly racked up a number of charges on Johnston’s credit card in the hours following her murder. Officers visited a number of stores in Washington, D.C., Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, obtaining surveillance video of Sadler swiping the card. The 23-year-old’s arm and hand looked to be bandaged. Additional surveillance video appeared to show Sadler leaving one store’s parking lot in Johnston's gold-colored Prius.

Adding to the damning evidence, an Aug. 1, telephone call made to BB&T Bank, requesting a change to the PIN number associated with Johnston's account. Telephone records, police say, linked that call to Sadler’s cell phone number.

Neighbors told ABC7 that Johnston had been renting out her basement to make ends meet. Neighbors also lamented about how the female tenant attracted an unpleasant crowd to the otherwise quaint neighborhood made up of post-war era homes.

According to charging documents, Johnston had recently ordered her tenant, Tonica Hill, 24, to vacate her home. Hill did just that on Friday, July 29, moving to a residence along the 3900 block of Tynewick Drive in Silver Spring. With Hill’s consent, detectives downloaded data from her cellular phone, which allegedly included three calls with Sadler on August 1, at 6:32 a.m., 6:33 a.m. and 8 a.m. The final call lasted 23 minutes.

Police have, so far, not filed charges against Hill or Weber, but that could change. A definitive motive for murder remains unknown, but robbery seems to be a primary factor.

During a police interview, Sadler reportedly confessed to killing Johnston. He also guided officers to the Winexburg Manor Apartments in Aspen Hill where he'd ditched the senior citizen's car. There was a large amount of the victim's blood on the front and rear seats. Sadler stated he'd disposed of the knife, bloody clothing and Johnston's credit card.

On Wednesday, Aug. 10, Sadler appeared via closed circuit television (CCTV) for his bond review. He wore a green jail jumpsuit and glasses, while maintaining a seemingly unfazed demeanor, mustering only a few words out loud.

A public defender stated the 23-year-old was a high school graduate who had worked at a local restaurant for more than two years. He was currently employed at the Rockville Target store.

Due to the heinous nature of the crime, a judge ordered Sadler remain behind bars on a no-bond status. He faces up to life in prison.

According to Maryland Judiciary Case Search, Sadler has a criminal and traffic record, which includes three automobile theft cases from December 23, 2014, October 10, 2015, and October 29, 2015. In two cases, prosecutors dropped charges. In the third, a judge sentenced Sadler to probation before judgment, in effect, putting him back on the streets.

The original report can be viewed below:


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