Man held in slaying of boy, woman

January 14, 1991|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Evening Sun Staff

A North Laurel man was charged last night with the deaths of his live-in girlfriend and her 8-year-old son, whose bodies were found on the living room floor of their home in the Whiskey Bottom Apartments, Howard County police said.

Melvin Leslie McMains, 36, of the 9100 block of Bourbon St., was arrested yesterday morning and charged about 11 p.m. with two counts of first-degree murder and using a handgun in the commission of a felony, said Sgt. Gary L. Gardner, a police spokesman.

Gardner said McMains was being held without bond at the Howard County Detention Center in Ellicott City following an appearance before a District Court commissioner.

About 8 a.m. yesterday, police found the bodies of Caria A. Roth, 30, and her son, Christopher, 8, after responding to a call of a disturbance at the victims' residence. Gardner said the woman had been shot in the head and the boy had been stabbed several times.

The family's 9-week-old dog, a pit bull terrier, also had been shot to death.

A neighbor in the Whiskey Bottom Apartments told police that she heard noise coming from the couple's unit about 5 a.m. yesterday. She called police about three hours later after McMains, looking frantic, knocked on her door.

Upon their arrival, police were met by McMains, who appeared calm but told them, "I have sinned. I have killed them all."

Police entered the apartment and found the bodies and a small amount of PCP, a hallucinogenic drug. Investigators had not determined whether the slayings were drug-related.

Gardner said police searched the apartment last night for hair samples and other evidence in the homicides, which were the first in Howard County this year.

Neighbors said Roth grew up in Laurel and that she and McMains moved into the apartment complex about three months ago.

Police said McMains worked as an auto mechanic in Washington.

Jeff Foster, who works in the area as a handyman, said he met McMains two months ago when he changed the locks on the couple's door. "He seemed like a nice individual to me at the time," Foster said. "He didn't seem like the type who would turn around and do something like that."

Christopher Roth transferred this year to Laurel Woods Elementary School, where he was a third-grade student.

"It's a very sad situation," said John Vermette, principal of Laurel Woods. "I'm reasonably familiar with him because he's new this year."

Vermette said he was concerned about how Christopher's death would affect other students. He said, "We really don't want kids to be saddened by this any more than they have to be."

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