An evening that began with a birthday party ended in tragedy for two Langley High School graduates after Montgomery County, Md., police arrested one and charged him with killing the other on Oct. 13.
According to Montgomery County Police, Rahul Gupta, 24, of McLean, killed Mark Edward Waugh, 23, of Great Falls, in a Silver Spring, Md., apartment early Sunday morning after believing that his best friend was sleeping with his girlfriend.
The two had known each other since they had both attended Langley High School.
Before that fateful night, both had what appeared to be very promising futures. Waugh recently had entered Georgetown University’s law school, while Gupta was pursuing a master’s in biomedical engineering at George Washington University.
But according to court documents and police charging documents, both their futures changed dramatically after a bloody fight that ended with one dead, and the other accused of his murder.
According to documents made public Tuesday, Gupta, his girlfriend, Waugh and another man had gone out drinking the Saturday night before to celebrate Gupta’s 24th birthday. The girlfriend was identified in court records as Taylor Gould. According to court records, Gupta, Gould and Waugh returned after midnight Sunday morning to the Silver Spring apartment where Gupta often stayed with Gould. There, the three continued drinking, taking shots of alcohol.
Police received a call for help shortly before 3:30 a.m. When they arrived at the apartment, they heard yelling inside, according to Gupta’s charging documents.
Those same documents tell a grisly tale of what police believe transpired: Officers entered the apartment and saw Gould running toward them, telling them, “I don’t know what happened. Can you tell me?” Blood was then found on the walls of the home’s living room and kitchen, and on Gupta, whom police found lying on the floor. Court records state the blood was from Waugh, whom police found lying near Gupta.
Gupta told investigators that he woke up to see Waugh “bleeding out,” sitting next to the bed.
Court records state Waugh had been stabbed more than a half a dozen times and that Fire and Rescue personnel had pronounced him dead at the scene. In Montgomery County District Court on Tuesday, Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Chaikin told Judge William G. Simmons that Gupta had stabbed Waugh in his upper back, puncturing a lung and slashing his jugular wide open. Waugh also had “defensive type” injuries on his body, Chaikin said, indicating that Waugh had put up a fight.
Gupta then told investigators he believed Waugh and Gould were having sex, court records state. “My girl was cheating with my buddy. I walked in on them cheating and I killed my buddy,” Gupta told police, according to his charging documents.
Documents state Gupta also told investigators that he believed Waugh had “tried to kill me and my family.”
Gould told police that after the last round of drinks the group consumed, she didn’t remember anything else that fateful Sunday morning, until Gupta’s yells — for her to call police — woke her. According to her account in court documents, Gupta was kneeling over Waugh’s body when she heard him and woke up to see what was going on.
Reached by phone at her home on Monday, Nancy Waugh, Mark Waugh’s mother, said her son and Gupta had been best friends. “It’s very hard right now,” she added. ”It’s just a shock. We can’t believe it.”
Mark Waugh had graduated magna cum laude in 2012 from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, said Bill Wyatt, a spokesman for the university. He said Waugh studied history at JMU and was inducted into the prestigious honor society Phi Beta Kappa last year. The school’s website shows Waugh was an active member of the debate team. “That passion began in high school,” Nancy Waugh said. Waugh’s family is setting up a fund in his memory at JMU for the school’s debate program, his mother added.
Gupta was charged with second-degree murder, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in Maryland, which does not have a death penalty like Virginia. On Oct. 15, he remained in custody in Montgomery County on $2 million bail.
Reginald Bours III, his attorney, argued in court Tuesday that Gupta’s bail should be lowered to $50,000, citing his studies at George Washington University and his lack of a prior criminal history. Bours said Gupta was taking classes toward another degree and had more than $80,000 in student loans.
“He has a lot at stake maintaining his career as a student,” Bours said.
“He’s on a different path now,” Chaikin retorted, arguing that Gupta be denied bail. Simmons kept his bail at $2 million.
Gupta’s parents, who were at the hearing, declined to speak to media.
In court, Bours disputed portions of the charging documents, noting that Gupta and Waugh had gone out to celebrate, then returned to the same apartment.
“There is no situation where he would be coming in and finding them together,” Bours said.
Kathryn Chmura, a neighbor of the Waughs, said in a phone interview that Waugh was “a smart kid” who had three siblings.
“They’re all a lovely family,” she said, describing Waugh and his siblings as “polite and professional.”
Staff Writer Gregg MacDonald contributed to this report.