Police: Esteemed NIH scientist crushed roommate's skull with hammer

National Institutes of Health is behind bars, accused of trying to kill his female roommate. (Police mugshot)

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - A longtime scientist from the National Institutes of Health is in trouble with the law, accused of trying to kill his female roommate. Police say the attack started because of a fight over a dog.

On Aug. 4, Timothy Oliver, 68, of Rockville, left his dog, a 3-year-old Maltese, in his roommate’s care while he was at work. Around 7:30 p.m. that same day, Oliver received a blitz of frantic phone calls; it was his roommate reporting a car had run over his beloved pet in a parking lot.

According to charging documents filed in Montgomery County District Court, that roommate, whom ABC 7 News is not identifying, told bystanders, "He [Oliver] is going to kill me."

Oliver raced to the Metropolitan Emergency Animal Clinic in Rockville, where his roommate had taken the dog. Staff there attempted CPR, but the animal's injuries were too severe for resuscitation. The Maltese died shortly after arriving. Oliver placed the dog's body in a cardboard box, and took it back to his condo along the 6000 block of California Circle in Rockville.

The mood inside the first-floor, two-bedroom unit quickly became tense. Oliver's roommate reportedly attempted to explain what had happened, prompting the scientist to start pacing around the condo. Oliver then allegedly retrieved a hammer from the kitchen, stormed toward his roommate, and hit her repeatedly in the head with the blunt-force object, cracking open her skull.

"Are you serious? Oh my God! I didn't know that," neighbor Leila Neza said. "Nobody deserves that.”

Following the attack, Oliver allegedly kicked his roommate out of his unit, leaving her unconscious on the sidewalk with a depressed skull fracture. A neighbor found the woman lying beside her cat, and a pile of personal belongings, and called 911.

"It’s hard for me to believe,” said Mary Krause, who lives directly next door. "His actions went from bad to worse. You don't attack somebody over something like that."

Oliver, a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, has worked as a computer scientist at NIH’s Bethesda campus since 1980.

Investigators say during questioning, the IT guru admitted to the brutal attack. He was subsequently charged with Attempted First-Degree Murder and First-Degree Assault

During his bond review, Oliver’s defense attorney vehemently argued the charge of Attempted First-Degree Murder, saying:

“There was no attempt to kill or murder, as the victim is alive and if he wanted her dead, then she would be dead.”

"Shocking! You really don't know your neighbors, who lives there, and what they're capable of,” Neza concluded.

Paramedics transported Oliver’s roommate to a local trauma center, where she underwent neurosurgery to repair her fractured skull.

Oliver bonded-out of jail on Aug. 7, and is due back in Montgomery County District Court for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 29 at 10 a.m.