Coe Is Cautiously Amused By Sniffer

March 22, 1991|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

Councilman David G. Boschert has his own theory about the man who barged into an Odenton church Sunday and sniffed the minister's shoes after taking them off her feet.

"Maybe he works for Odor Eaters," said Boschert, D-Crownsville. Then he burst out laughing.

Everybody who's heard the shoe sniffing story is laughing, even the chief sniffee, the Rev. Phoebe Coe, rector at Epiphany Episcopal Church on Odenton Road.

Coe, a minister for 14 years, said she's "seen everything" during her career.

"But off the top of my head I can't think of anything more bizarre than this."

Coe's account jibes with that of county police, who are investigating the incident but have not arrested the man.

She said she was still wearing her robes at about 11:30 a.m. when, during a coffee hour following church services, a man walked up to her, put his arm around her "and grabbed myshoe."

"He leaned over and put his hand on my ankle. He took my shoe off and stuck his nose in it!

"At the first moment, I was justshocked. Then I took my shoe back and said, 'Cut it out!' I said, 'Go get a cup of coffee and a sandwich.' "

Police reported that after leaving Coe, the man walked into another room, where he took the shoes off two children and sniffed them as well.

Then he ran away.

Coe notified police on Monday. The man, whom she judged to be in his 40s or 50s, did not appear threatening and is a "familiar face" in the Odenton area, she said.

"If it wasn't for the one little girl (who asked why the man sniffed her shoes) I probably wouldn't have called the police. But it's one thing to be weird and another to be weird around children.

"The fellow needs to be found and helped."

Police are expected to seek sexual assault charges against the man.

This is the second shoe-sniffing incident reported in West County since late January.

On Jan. 25, a man approached a woman in Severn and convinced her to remove her shoes by telling her they might contain a sticker used in a cash giveaway.

He sniffed the shoes and drove away.

Coe said she was wearing black flats when she was sniffed.

Observed Boschert, "I hope (the sniffer) is not a constituent of mine.

"I'd better have the water checked up there."

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