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WASHINGTON — The son of a disgraced former White House aide used a hatchet to kill a friend inside his parents’ garage in Gaithersburg, Md., authorities said Friday.

Claude Allen III, 20, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Michael Harvey, 25, in a case that stunned friends and neighbors of a family that has seen its share of calamity. Allen’s father, Claude Allen II, ended a promising political career in 2006 when he pleaded guilty to theft after resigning as President George W. Bush’s senior domestic-policy adviser.

Detectives were trying to determine what motivated the attack on Harvey. One acquaintance said Harvey and Allen were good friends and that Harvey was a father to at least two children. Court records show both men had faced minor drug charges.

At 12:09 a.m. Friday, 911 operators for Montgomery County, Md., received a call from Claude Allen III that a burglary had occurred at the home he shares with his parents in the Washington, D.C., suburb.

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The parents
were not home at the time of the call, according to police.

Claude Allen III told the operator he had killed the burglar. “When we arrived he was waiting for us,” said Capt. Jim Daly, a spokesman for the Montgomery Police Department.

Allen led police officers to the body in the woods behind the home, according to police. Officers concluded that Allen and Harvey knew each other and that the home had not been broken into, Daly said. Police found the hatchet inside the house. They believe the attack started in the garage.

The younger Allen’s arrest comes seven years after the end of his father’s political career. Claude Allen II, now 52, pleaded guilty in 2006 to misdemeanor theft amid accusations that he stole items from Target and Hecht’s stores.

He was arrested after Montgomery police accused him of stealing more than $5,000 in merchandise.

The senior Allen has remained out of the public eye ever since, pursuing charity work.

Robert Rashford, a neighbor who has known the Allens for 16 years, said they were active at the Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg. He said they have four children. “This is a great family. We are all taken aback by the circumstances,” he said.

Rashford said the younger Allen had returned from college at the University of Richmond, which confirmed Allen had been a student until his departure in October.

Gaithersburg resident Megan Morrissey, who said she had known Harvey for about five years, said he had worked for a temp agency and liked to play basketball. He had at least two children, Morrissey said, and court records show he had faced at least two paternity suits.

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