DC man faces life in prison for abducting tourists in 2018

A D.C. man could get a life sentence after pleading guilty Wednesday to the armed kidnapping and robbery of two tourists as they tried to find their Airbnb rental in Southeast.

Andre Allen, 21, admitted to abducting Sipei He and Qinglei Zhu late June 3, 2018, near the 200 block of 11th Street Southeast, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. The women had been dropped off there by a ride-hailing service and were trying to find their Airbnb rental.

A partially masked Allen approached the students, pulled what appeared to be a gun from a bag and demanded money, prosecutors said. He also searched them and their luggage, then ordered them to get into a car in a nearby alley.

Once in the car, authorities said, he drove the women to a bank in Clinton, Maryland, where each withdrew money from an ATM. Allen then drove them to a dimly lit area in Suitland, Maryland, authorities said, and released them. The victims found help at a 24-hour laundromat.

“Although neither complainant was physically harmed, the experience had a significant
psychological toll” on the pair, federal prosecutors said in court documents.

Allen later tried to use one victim’s credit card at a gas station in Temple Hills, Maryland, authorities said, and tried to sell a stolen laptop to an electronics resale store in Capitol Heights, Maryland.

The Audi used in the crime had been stolen and was recovered days later after D.C. police saw occupants shooting paintballs into a crowd in Southeast D.C. It led to a chase and crash on southbound Interstate 295.

One victim’s cellphone case was found inside the recovered car. Investigators also saw the Audi’s resemblance to surveillance footage at the bank and gas station.

Authorities later found Allen’s DNA on a victim’s wallet, and cell tower data placed his phone in the 11th Street Southeast area at the time of the abduction, prosecutors said. Investigators also found a fake gun and mask matching the victims’ description when searching Allen’s residence.

The 21-year-old “has amassed a significant history of arrests for criminal conduct,” prosecutors said. It includes a conviction for being found driving a carjacked vehicle in 2017 in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Allen had pleaded guilty and was put on supervised probation.

In addition, Allen was charged with auto theft in January and had been on pretrial release, authorities said.

Allen was arrested for the kidnapping this spring. He’ll be sentenced March 13, 2020.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.

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Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

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