May-June 2014 | Featured Article

The Killer Next Door

At 17, Samuel Sheinbein seemed like the All-American kid-except for the fact that he confessed to murdering a Silver Spring teenager and cutting up his body with a circular saw. We revisit the case more than 17 years later.

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Aaron Needle is buried in a grassy circle next to his maternal grandparents. The inscription on the burial plaque reads, “Beloved Son and Brother.” Following that are four lines in Hebrew from the Book of Genesis in the Bible: “Your name shall be Yisrael [Israel] because you struggled with God and with men.” It seems a fitting epitaph for the young man whose personal struggles ended with him hanging in a jail cell.

Roslyn Needle, so eloquent at his graveside funeral, declines to comment now on her son’s life and death. “He’s resting,” she says during a phone call.

There was no burial for Freddy Tello, whose mutilated remains were cremated. But there was a memorial service at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Silver Spring more than a week after the murder. The Washington City Paper reported that more than 200 attended.

Lorena Tello, the young man’s aunt by marriage, recalls the service as both “sad” and “awful.”

“They talked about him, showed pictures about him, about his life, stuff he liked to do,” she says from her home in Boyds. “…His mother was, like, numbed. She said something to me I can never forget. ‘Now it’s your turn to have a baby to carry on the [Tello] family name.’ Sure enough, I got pregnant the following year. He is now 15.”

In 2001, Tello’s mother, Eliette, married Eric Dawes, a former bank executive who now works for the Federal Housing Finance Agency. She works as a customer service representative at a bank in Burtonsville, and declines to speak about the case or about Sheinbein’s recent death. “She doesn’t have any interest in reliving it,” her husband says, though it continues to haunt her.

The second Christmas after her son’s murder, McCarthy encountered Tello’s mother at the church both their families attend. It was a Christmas Eve Mass, during the traditional “kiss of peace,” when worshippers turn to greet others sitting near them. On this occasion, McCarthy happened to be seated directly behind her. “We looked at each other, recognized each other, we hugged, she cried,” he recalls.

It was a difficult moment. “When you do what I do,” he says, “I remind people of the worst things that happened to them in their life.”

The long-vacant house on Breeze Hill Lane where Freddy Tello’s remains were discovered finally sold in May 1998 for $180,000 to Glenn Schaible, a widely published economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Schaible, now 64, says he was “very aware” of the story when he purchased the home, but “at this point, it has nothing to do with this house.”

The former Sheinbein house around the corner on Birchtree Lane was sold a second time, to a Bolivian family, in 2001.

 “Fortunately, when we bought the house, we didn’t know anything about [the murder],” says owner Viviana Duran, who lives there with her elderly parents and two daughters, 12 and 20.

A consultant for Booz Allen, she doesn’t dwell on the past. “It’s a nice neighborhood. There is nothing around here I can complain of.”  

Still, she says, “I have that scary feeling it happened in my garage. I just prefer to think it happened somewhere other than here.”

Eugene L. Meyer is a longtime contributing editor for Bethesda Magazine. Daniella Cheslow, a journalist based in Israel, also contributed to this article. To comment on this story, email comments@bethesdamagazine.com.