Caprice Mossner's parents didn't want their 14-year-old daughter hanging around the older teen-agers in their Reisterstown neighborhood, particularly after two of the young women were involved in a drunken-driving accident that killed a 3-year-old boy in July.
"We just didn't want her in that group," said R. Kent Hall, Caprice's stepfather. "But we couldn't leash her to the porch, either."
Maybe it was youthful defiance, Mr. Hall said, that made Caprice get into a car Sunday night with a group that included Jennifer Jones, 18, who had been a passenger in the car that killed 3-year-old Ryan Garth-Davis Shanahan.
By the end of the evening, both Caprice and Jennifer were dead -- along with the driver of the car, Lucius Hardwick III, 22, of Reisterstown.
Only one person survived the crash at 7:40 p.m. on a dark, winding section of Deer Park Road in Randallstown. Terrence Lilly, 17, of the 300 block of Bentley Park Lane, Reisterstown, who had been sitting in the front passenger seat, was treated and released from Sinai Hospital.
Terrence told Baltimore County police that Mr. Hardwick was drinking from a bottle of wine as he drove at a high rate of speed, police said yesterday. Miss Jones, who had been scheduled to testify tomorrow in the vehicular manslaughter trial of her friend, Amy Bolte, reminded Mr. Hardwick of the accident that killed 3-year-old Ryan as she and the other teen-agers in the car urged him to slow down, police said.
But the conversation made Mr. Hardwick angry, Terrence told police. Moments later, the car veered off the road and slammed into a tree -- the impact folding the Chrysler in half, police said.
Last night, investigators were awaiting the results of blood-alcohol tests performed on Mr. Hardwick during a preliminary autopsy.
The deaths came just as Reisterstown's Neighbors Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse and the community's schools launched a campaign last week in which 10,000 folders containing information about drug abuse were distributed to students in memory of the 3-year-old Ryan.
"This is the second drunk-driving tragedy in this community in four months," said Gail Shane, president of the neighborhood group. "Kids are so cocky. They believe they can drink and get in a car, and they'll be fine. But I wonder if those kids ever got the folders."
Caprice, a freshman at Franklin High School who dreamed of a career in modeling, ballet or music, was like any other teen-ager, Mr. Hall said. She was carefree and a little rebellious.
"She was at an age when she was just between a child and being older," he said. "We told her never, never, never get into any cars. No cars."
She told her parents she was going down the street to visit a friend her own age, but went to Jennifer's house instead. Her parents felt something was wrong almost as soon as she missed her 9 p.m. curfew.
Mr. Hall, a former paramedic, swiftly called friends at the Baltimore County Fire Department to find out whether there had been any accidents. He knew about the crash on Deer Park Road when he telephoned police.
"Just level with me," Mr. Hall told a police officer after describing his stepdaughter. "Is it her?"
The officer hesitated before saying yes.