Breakup led to slaying, police say Ex-boyfriend fatally stabs woman, then hangs self

January 04, 1991|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Evening Sun Staff

Belinda Newkirk, the 23-year-old receptionist killed by her ex-boyfriend in the doctor's office where she worked, was an attractive and good-natured person who will be missed, friends and neighbors say.

"She was a pretty girl and quiet," Mary Ashburn, a friend and neighbor of Newkirk, who lived in the 3500 block of Elmora Ave., said yesterday. "She never hurt anybody."

"It's a tragic loss," said another neighbor.

Newkirk died about 9:30 a.m. yesterday in the hallway of the physician's office in the first block of E. Read St., police said. She was fatally stabbed by her ex-boyfriend, Richard Archie Harris 3rd, 24, of the 1400 block of Kitmore Road, police said.

She had been stabbed at least seven times in the upper chest and cut at least once in the back of the neck.

Harris had several recent violent arguments with Newkirk over their breakup.

"She had moved on," a police source said. "She had a new boyfriend but Harris continued to make threats -- said he couldn't live without her. He told the victim that he would kill her and them kill himself."

After the stabbing, Harris ran to Newkirk's black Mustang and drove to his house on Kitmore Road.

At the house, police said, Harris filled up a second-floor bathtub with water and rigged an electrical wire from an outlet into the water. He had removed his shoes and socks and apparently was set on electrocuting himself but changed his mind and went to a bridge on Loch Raven Boulevard, not far from the house.

Police said Harris climbed the structure beneath the bridge, where he fastened a rope to a piece of the concrete span.

He then tied the rope around his neck and jumped.

Newkirk was the city's fifth homicide of 1991, police said.

Members of Newkirk's family told police that she was an aspiring model who had ended her relationship with Harris in November but that he refused to let go.

"He kept insisting that they were meant to be together," said Deloris J. Newkirk, 50, Belinda Newkirk's mother. "My daughter really wasn't afraid of him. If I only knew he was that bad off . . . We just didn't know that."

A source close to the investigation said, "Harris continued to make threats, said he couldn't live without her. He told the victim that he would kill her and then himself."

Yesterday morning, Newkirk complained to a police officer near her workplace that Harris was following her and told him to make Harris stop, police said. Harris apparently agreed to do so and left the area.

After arriving at work, Newkirk called her brother to notify him that Harris had followed her, police said. Harris later phoned Newkirk and said, "Everything was OK," said a police officer said. But soon after that phone call, Newkirk was dead.

"She was happy-go-lucky everyday, 365 days a year," said Harold L. Newkirk, 50, the victim's father. "She never hurt nobody."

There are three other Newkirk children: Jeffrey, 31, Regina, 30, and Randall, 27.

A neighbor of the Harris family said that family, too, was devastated by the incident. "They are really heart-broken," said Annie Rush Hubbard, a neighbor of the Harris'.

Hubbard said Harris had a 10-year-old brother, attended city schools and was an automobile mechanic at one time.

"He just loved to see a car look good," Hubbard said, adding that in happier times, Newkirk would "be out on the steps watching him work on his car."

Hubbard said they appeared to be "a typical young couple."

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