When Joanne H. Webb heard the knock on the door of her Baltimore County home in the wee hours of Friday morning, she immediately woke her husband, Harold. But by the time they got out of bed, put on robes and reached the front door, she saw someone walking away.
Because the couple is accustomed to helping strangers in need, the 66-year-old woman made a split-second decision; she knocked on a window and urged the man she saw to wait until the door could be opened.
Moments after the man and his female companion entered the spacious Sparks-area home about 1 a.m., feigning car trouble, Mr. Webb was killed during a robbery attempt in which his wife chased one suspect out the back door while avoiding a several gunshots.
The scene at the Webbs' home was detailed in documents filed yesterday in Baltimore County District Court, where two suspects in the slaying of Mr. Webb, 75, were denied bail by Judge I. Marshall Seidler.
Police have charged Thomas E. Crawford, 31, and his girlfriend, Cynthia L. Levering, 28, who live together in the 5100 block of Ardmore Way, Gardenville, with first-degree murder in the case.
Ms. Levering, a petite woman with light brown hair, stood silently upon hearing that bail would be denied. An unemployed painter, she is currently on probation for a theft conviction in Baltimore.
Mr. Crawford, however, claimed that he "had nothing to do with" the murders. He asked that he be granted bail, given a lie-detector test and placed in a lineup to see whether Mrs. Webb could identify him.
"That is absurd . . . that I am here with no bail," he told Judge Seidler.
Mr. Crawford told the judge he is currently employed by a construction company as a dry wall installer. He currently is facing charges of assault, battery and drug possession in an unrelated case in Baltimore County.
Police allege that the couple planned to rob the Webbs when they stopped at their home and asked to use the telephone.
The plan apparently went awry when the man reached into his jacket, frightening Mrs. Webb. She hit him with a portable telephone she had brought into the foyer and chased him when he began running through the house, firing shots at her as he fled out the back door.
In the confusion that followed, nothing was stolen, but Mrs. Webb returned to the foyer to find her husband lying on the floor with several gunshot wounds. Police allege that the female accomplice shot Mr. Webb.
Court documents said the break in the case came when a friend of the suspects telephoned police on Saturday.
According to the documents, the friend told police that Mr. Crawford and Ms. Levering came to his home late Friday night asking for a loan because "they were going to get out of town soon as possible."
The friend said Mr. Crawford told him that Ms. Levering shot the "old man" because she believed Mr. Webb was reaching for a gun, according to the documents.
Mr. Crawford and Ms. Levering remain in the Baltimore County Jail awaiting a preliminary hearing.