Arrests made in murder of informant who got Marine to confess to murders

Prince George's County police have arrested two men for the murder of a Virginia man who was an ex-con turned informant.

Osama El-Atari was found shot to death in his truck on Armstrong Lane in Upper Marlboro near Andrews Air Force Base.

Police said the motive for the murder was robbery and had nothing to do with El-Atari's previous life working for the feds.

Court charging documents filed in the case say a conspiracy was hatched among several people to assault and rob El-Atari last Thursday on an industrial street in Capitol Heights. Police believe the one-time federal informant was abducted there and driven to a street just off the Beltway where he was robbed and shot.

Police found the El-Atari's body last Saturday afternoon on a stretch of road near an abandoned house. He was in the passenger seat of his pickup truck shot in the upper body. Investigators believe his body had been there since the robbery two days earlier.

The charging documents say a Rolex watch was taken.

"Other items were also taken, but the details of them are part of the investigation," said Prince George's County Police Lt. David Coleman.

Police arrested 29-year-old Eric Garris, of Temple Hills, and 26-year-old Taqwa Muhammad, of Prince Frederick. They are both charged with first-degree murder.

El-Atari lived a colorful life and would still have been in federal prison had he not agreed to cooperate with the feds and work to get a confession from a former Marine now on death row.

El-Atari was a smooth talker with a big personality. He could talk to just about anyone. When the feds needed an informant, they turned to El-Atari who had scammed banks out of tens of millions of dollars.

In August 2010, the feds wanted to see if El-Atari could get Jorge Torrez, a Marine, to confess on tape to the murder of Amanda Jean Snell, a sailor who was found murdered in Fort Myer.

The two talked for hours with El-Atari getting Torrez to admit to the vicious crime. He was also able to get Torrez to admit to the 2005 killing of two little girls in his hometown of Zion, Illinois - a crime in which a suspect had already confessed. That suspect was released when DNA evidence pointed to Torrez.

With those confessions, El-Atari's original sentence of 12 years was greatly reduced and he ended up being a free man once again.