When a man slipped into Michele K. McIntire's cubicle at the Sunseekers Tanning Salon in Gambrills Tuesday night, she apparently thought someone was playing a joke on her.
"It sounded like she was laughing at first," said Marc R. Browne, an employee who had been using a tanning bed in an adjacent room. "I guess she thought someone had gone in there as a joke.
"I hate to use the cliche, but the next thing I heard was this blood-curdling scream. She kept yelling, 'Get off! Get off!' " Mr. Browne said.
When the 20-year-old Mr. Browne ran to the next cubicle, he found Ms. McIntire lying on the floor in a pool of blood.
"I just froze," Mr. Browne said. "It was such an eerie sight, with the ultraviolet light in the background. She held out her hands and yelled, 'Help me! Help me, I've been stabbed!' "
The Anne Arundel County police described the stabbing as "crazy . . . a freak thing" for which there was no apparent motive.
A 24-year-old Annapolis man who was out on parole from a prison sentence has been charged in the attack. He was taken into custody after Mr. Browne and another customer of the tanning salon gave chase as a man fled the scene. They pointed the man out to the police. The suspect, who had a deep cut on his left forearm, was taken to the Prince George's Hospital Center, where he was in fair-stable condition.
Investigators said they knew of no relationship between the 23-year-old victim and her attacker, nor have they uncovered any motive.
"My personal opinion is that he just picked her out at random," said Sgt. William King of the county police.
The suspect, Ray McDonald Hoggard Jr., 24, of the 1300 block of Washington Drive, Annapolis, has been charged in a warrant with assault with intent to murder, the police said.
He was released from the state prison system Oct. 17 after serving a sentence for assault with intent to rape and for burglary, said Leonard Sipes, a corrections spokesman.
According to witnesses who aided Ms. McIntire while they awaited an ambulance, the young woman said her attacker had entered the tanning cubicle as she lay on a tanning bed. Without saying a word, he lifted the lid on the tanning bed, grabbed her by the hair and started plunging a butcher knife into her chest and face.
Ms. McIntire was wearing protective shields on her eyes at the time and apparently never saw her attacker.
She was flown by state police helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where she was reported in critical but stable condition last night.
Mr. Browne said he and another man, Steve Fifer of Millersville, chased the attacker as he ran out a rear door.
The attacker managed to elude them by running through southbound traffic to the median of Route 3, but Mr. Browne and Mr. Fifer ran back to the tanning salon, borrowed a customer's car and continued the chase. They found the man again as he collapsed on the parking lot of a store along the northbound lanes of Route 3.
The police then took him into custody.
The suspect had lost a considerable amount of blood from the cut on his forearm, Sergeant King said. The police said they did not know how the man was injured.
Hoggard was originally sentenced in October 1984 in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to 20 years in jail for assault with intent to rape and burglary, Mr. Sipes said. He said Hoggard received a 20-year concurrent sentence for two other burglaries.
Judge James C. Cawood Jr., who sentenced him, later altered the term to eliminate the prison sentence and placed him on five years' probation, Mr. Sipes said.
On April 25, 1985, the judge reimposed the sentence after Hoggard violated the conditions of his probation. Mr. Sipes said he was cited for positive urine samples during drug tests, failure to report to drug program sessions, failure to report to his probation agent and failure to pay court costs and restitution.
Hoggard remained in jail until he was paroled last October.
Since his parole, he has undergone extensive supervision, attended alcohol and drug programs and been tested negatively for drugs numerous times, Mr. Sipes said.