A 30-year-old sales representative from Philadelphia was fatally shot in an apparent robbery Monday night at the Quality Inn at U.S. 40 and the Beltway, about an hour after she left a meeting with her supervisor in Catonsville, Baltimore County police said.
The supervisor said she called the motel four times to check that her visitor had arrived safely, until after 11 p.m., when "there was still no answer, and I called . . . the hotel and asked the security guard to see what was wrong."
The motel guard found Valerie Esther Brown dead of a gunshot wound to the chest, lying in an inside hallway on the first floor about 10 feet from the entrance off the parking lot at the rear of the motel in the 5800 block of Baltimore National Pike.
E. Jay Miller, spokesman for the Baltimore County police, said the victim's purse was gone and a box of paperwork she was carrying had been dropped in the parking lot near the entrance, where she apparently was approached and backed into the building. No witnesses had been found.
Ms. Brown, a sales representative for the publishing firm of Holt, Rinehart & Winston Co., checked into the motel at 4:20 p.m. Monday and had a meeting until about 10 p.m. at the home of her regional supervisor in Catonsville.
Motel employees said they knew little about the case and referred questions to police. Ms. Brown's supervisor asked not to be quoted by name because she feared the killer was still at large.
Mr. Miller said police strongly suspect a link between the killing of Ms. Brown and the Sept. 8 shooting across the street of Katherine Dwyer, a 43-year-old teacher who was loading packages into her car at the lower parking lot of the Westview Shopping Center near Caldor and Value City.
Ms. Dwyer, of Arbutus, was released from the Shock Trauma Center Saturday, officials there said.
In that case, Mr. Miller said, the assailant also was after the purse of a lone woman carrying a package in a parking lot. Witnesses said a young, slim, dark-skinned black man approached Ms. Dwyer, started to pull at her purse and shot her when she resisted. The bullet passed through her biceps and into her chest.
The assailant jumped into a dark or navy Audi- or Honda-style car, parked diagonally to her Toyota Roadrunner and driven by an older, heavier black man in a white shirt, Mr. Miller said.
"We are investigating the possibility that the two shootings are related," Mr. Miller said. "They were both shot with a handgun, right across the street from each other [and] in each case the purse was the apparent target."