A teen accused of a brutal Fourth of July murder aboard a Washington, D.C., Metro train may have been high on synthetic drugs when he allegedly beat and fatally slashed a former congressional intern up to 40 times as other passengers aboard the train car cowered in the corners.
The disturbing details of the brazen crime, described in an arrest affidavit obtained by the Washington Post, reveals the apparent randomness of the armed robbery, allegedly perpetrated by 18-year-old Jasper Spires, that led to the bloody death of 24-year-old Kevin Sutherland.
Sutherland, an American University graduate who had served as an intern for U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), was aboard the Red Line Metro train about 1 p.m. Saturday when Spires grabbed for his cellphone after boarding at the Rhode Island Ave. stop.
The two scuffled and Spires allegedly pulled a knife, stabbing and cutting Sutherland 30 to 40 times as the man moaned for help, according to the affidavit.
“We were in a moving train,” one witness, who was en route to a Foo Fighters concert with her father, told the Washington Post. “You’re not really sure what you need to do … This man is holding a bloody knife. I don’t think anyone was going to try and stop him.”
Spires then threw the stolen cellphone at Sutherland’s body before walking back over and stomping on his bloodied remains, the document reads.
“I watched (the attacker) drop-kick him in the head several times, like he wanted to kick his head off,” the female witness, who was not identified, told the newspaper. “We saw the perpetrator kicking the man. He had him on the ground, punching him, kicking him and stabbing him.”
Spires then approached the woman and her father and said, “What do ya’ll got?” before stealing about $65 from the 76-year-old man and $160 from his 52-year-old daughter.
By the time the train rolled into the NoMa-Gallaudet station, Sutherland was dead and Spires fled.
He left behind a backpack, which contained a washcloth with his blood and a health insurance card with his name on it, as he jumped a turnstile, police said.
Spires had just picked up the bookbag earlier Sunday, after it had been confiscated by cops following an arrest Thursday for misdemeanor assault.
Spires, who allegedly kicked two police officers during the collar, was back on the street Friday. One officer who had spoken to him on suspicious activity calls said “Spires acted as if he was under the influence and would talk to himself,” according to the affidavit.
Following the murder, Spires remained on the lam until police hunted him down Monday.
The witnesses, who said it was too dangerous to intervene during the gruesome attack, played a crucial role in identifying Spires as the alleged perpetrator. All of the descriptions matched up with surveillance video and police photographs.
“I did not want him to think that he had to hurt us because we would identify him,” the female witness told the Washington Post. “I wanted him to think that he could walk away from this, and that’s what he did.”
Himes, who represents Connecticut’s 4th District, changed his Twitter picture to one of him and Sutherland posing and smiling.
“Am absolutely heartbroken by the tragic loss of intern, staffer & wonderful friend, Kevin Sutherland,” Himes tweeted Sunday. “I’ve known few as selfless & decent.”
It’s unclear where Sutherland was headed aboard the train Saturday, but his last post on Facebook, dated June 29, was of the 2012 fireworks display at the National Mall.
“Life is not fair and this is harder to comprehend,” friend Stephanie Vaughn commented beneath the photo Monday. “Praying and sending love to your family. You were too young to leave our world and will be missed.”