Information obtained through a crime hot line enabled police to arrest two suspects yesterday in the slaying of a furniture company executive, shot near the family-owned business in Southwest Baltimore last Thursday, authorities said.
Jeffrey Lloyd Johnson, 26, of the 2800 block of Presstman Street, West Baltimore, and Marc Sean Howell, 20, of the 6400 block of Woodgreen Circle, Gwynn Oak, were charged with first-degree murder, attempted armed robbery and a handgun offense.
Baltimore police said robbery -- and not some vendetta, as had been theorized -- appears to have been the motive in the slaying of Aaron S. Levenson, 30, vice president of the Royal Furniture Co.
His widow, Christine Levenson, said the knowledge that two suspects were in custody did not ease her pain. "There's no sense of relief. There really isn't," she said. "My husband is dead. He is gone and nothing will bring him back."
Mr. Levenson also is survived by two children.
Police said the arrests were made after homicide detectives looked into information received the day of the murder through the department's Metro Crime Stoppers hot line, 276-8888.
Mr. Levenson was shot to death as he arrived for work at the furniture company in the 500 block of South Monroe Street. The two assailants ran away, leaving behind two bank deposit bags later found to contain only checks and papers and without robbing Mr. Levenson, who had been carrying about $7 at the time, police said.
Because nothing was taken, detectives speculated that Mr. Levenson was killed because of some vendetta. But yesterday, police said that robbery appears to have been the motive and that the pair simply panicked after the first shot was fired.
Mr. Levenson was shot in the chest and fell to the ground, clutching the bank deposit bags to his chest, police said. The gunman then shot him twice in the back before both assailants ran to a black car parked about a half-block away and fled.
Police said the suspects were employees of Ms. Desserts, a Woodlawn baking business.
One suspect was contacted at work and told to come to police headquarters, where he was arrested. The other was taken into custody on the street near his home. Both were being held last night at the Southwestern District lockup, awaiting bail hearings.
Police said that as a result of information received through the hot line, detectives served a search warrant at the home of Mr. Johnson's mother. They also seized a black 1985 Nissan Pulsar belonging to Mr. Howell and a pair of his shoes.
Police said no weapon has been found. The car was being searched for evidence.
Police took footprints from the hoods of vehicles in a used-car lot at Wilkens Avenue and Monroe Street, along the assailants' escape route.
Mrs. Levenson said that until the arrests, her family had been fearful.
"At least we know they have been arrested. At least that part is over," she said. "I really don't want to think about it. I've just been trying to immerse myself with all my old friends."