Body Is Identified

Police, fire log

Boyfriend Charged

January 23, 1991

Police have identified a woman whose charred body was found Friday in Laurel and have charged her boyfriend with killing her.

Catherine May Baier, 33, who had no permanent address, was found shortly after 11 p.m. by Anne Arundel County firefighters as they battled a fire in a wooded area near the Laurel Race Course. An autopsy determined Baier had been stabbed once and hit on the head by a blunt instrument.

Her body was found near a campsite near the 9000 block of WhiskeyBottom Road, where Baier was believed to have been living, police said.

Police charged William Venoy Brodnax, 33, whose address also was not known, with murder and arson. Police have identified Baier as Brodnax's girlfriend.

Brodnax was arrested by police after approaching officers who were gathering evidence at the scene. The suspect had blood on his clothing, police said.

Police say they have no motive for the slaying, although court papers said that Brodnax admittedto police that he and Baier had been arguing over money on Friday evening.

Brodnax is being held on $750,000 bond at the Howard CountyDetention Center. Police say the investigation is continuing, although no other arrests are expected.


A Howard County band teacher was charged Monday with child abuse after a Texas woman alleged that she was sexually abused by the man nearly 10 years ago while she was a county high school student, county police said.

Donald Barry Cohen, 45, of Columbia, was charged after sworn statements were received from a 27-year-old Denton, Texas, woman, police said.

The woman is a former student at Wilde Lake High School, where Cohen previously taught band. He is now the bandinstructor at Glenwood Middle School.

Court papers said the womanhas been undergoing therapy for sexual abuse and decided to return to Howard County to file charges against Cohen, who she claims made sexual advances toward her when she was 17.

The relationship ended after Cohen had sexual intercourse with the woman at his apartment, the court records said.

In a separate case two years ago, Cohen was acquitted of another child abuse charge that was filed after a 13-year-old Wilde Lake Middle School student claimed that he indecently touched her.

In that case, Cohen took the witness stand and denied the charge, saying that his style was to develop a closeness with students and that he frequently drove band members home.

During the 1988 trial, Cohen's lawyer, Jonathan Scott Smith, labeled the police investigation as a response to the recent hysteria surrounding child abuse cases. "I think the brush fire has turned into an inferno of paranoia," he told the jury.

Cohen has been a county band instructor for more than 20 years. He was released by a District Court commissioner on his own recognizance.


A 9-year-old girl suffered internal injuries Sunday when she was run over by the front wheels of a farm tractor, county rescue workers said.

The victim, who county rescue workers did not identify, was reported in good condition at the Johns Hopkins Hospital pediatricunit and was expected to be released Tuesday evening or Wednesday.

Rescue workers say the accident occurred approximately 12:05 p.m. in the 4000 block of Penn Cross Court in West Friendship after the girl fell from the tractor, which she was riding while a family member operated the vehicle.

The tractor's front wheels partially ran overthe child, although the injuries do not appear to have been critical, rescue workers said.

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