|Murdered former World Bank economist Johan de Leede.|
The retired World Bank economist and his wife found a refuge in their large home on an idyllic bend of the Potomac. Johan de Leede, 83, tended flowers, took grandchildren out on the river in a flotilla of little boats and sparred with guests over politics around a crackling fire.
De Leede was happiest when the house was full, and so it was one night last March when a gunman crept up behind the residence in Fairfax County, his family said. De Leede sat drinking a warm milk and eating a banana in front of the TV in his living room.
While his wife and her relatives slept in nearby bedrooms, the gunman unleashed a barrage of gunfire, hitting de Leede multiple times in the back just after 1 a.m., the family said. De Leede later died, and his killer slipped into the night.
Nearly 11 months later, the de Leede family said in their first public comments about the killing that it makes no more sense today than it did that night. Who would target an elderly man quietly living out his golden years? They hope speaking out can help crack the case....
The de Leede’s residence sits in an upscale neighborhood of $1 million homes on the Mason Neck peninsula, which is about 45 minutes south of the District but feels much farther away because of its bucolic beauty. The home has views of the river, which laps at the back yard.
Johan and Liesbeth were born in the Netherlands and emigrated to the United States in 1970, when he got a job at the World Bank. De Leede spent 25 years working on improving economic infrastructure in Sudan and other African countries before retiring...
The night of the killing unfolded with little indication of the trouble to come, said Susie Paul-de Leede, de Leede’s daughter-in-law. On March 10, de Leede and his wife were hosting her siblings, who were visiting from abroad.
The couple and the three houseguests had a lively dinner that night, before everyone except Johan de Leede turned in about 11:30 p.m., Paul-de Leede said. Shortly after 1 a.m., Liesbeth de Leede wrote she was awoke by the sound of gunfire.
At first, Liesbeth thought the shots had come from a program her husband was watching on TV. She found de Leede lying on the floor. She thought he had fallen.
But in the minutes that followed, Liesbeth noticed broken glass and blinds. She realized with growing alarm that Johan had been shot.
The family said it appears de Leede was sitting in a chair in the living room when he was struck by the bullets. They said it appeared the shooter remained outside and fired through a back window of the house.
Paul-de Leede said the family believes de Leede then staggered out of the chair and fell. Johan was hit in the back three or four times, and other bullets were discovered in the home, Paul-de Leede said....
Second Lt. Ron Haugsdahl of the Fairfax County police homicide unit said police have yet to discover a suspect or motive, despite ongoing efforts. He renewed the chief’s call for assistance, mentioning the public could provide tips anonymously via the CrimeStoppers program.
“As far as active suspects, we still do need the public’s help,” Haugsdahl said. “Mainly, it’s because we haven’t had any breaks in the case to link evidence we’ve found at the scene to a suspect.”