Grieving relatives and determined detectives thought for years that they knew why three people were lined up and killed under a clump of trees in Northeast Washington’s Langdon Park in the spring of 1991.

It took nearly 25 years to get the evidence to back up that theory.

Charges announced Wednesday against two men in the long-ago killings confirmed what family members suspected back then — that the victims stole a car belonging to two drug dealers, who authorities think sought retribution because there had been a half-ounce of cocaine in the vehicle.

Police said 44-year-old Michael Green of northeast Washington and 45-year-old Benito Valdez of Arlington, Virginia, were arrested Tuesday. Both are charged with first degree murder while armed in the 1991 shooting deaths of 29-year-old Curtis Pixley, 24-year-old Keith Simmons and 23-year-old Samantha Gillard...

The arrests, almost 25 years after the shootings, came after police learned there was a potential witness in the case, Newsham said. That witness led police to "a number of other witnesses who corroborated information from the first witness," Newsham said.