The police recovered yesterday the bodies of three young men -- all casualties of a drug deal gone sour -- who were apparently killed in a Southwest Baltimore row house over the weekend and dumped in a debris-strewn lot in rural Odenton.
Investigators were led to the bodies by a 31-year-old Baltimore man who was arrested early yesterday when the police broke down the door of an Elkridge motel room and freed a young couple the man had apparently abducted in an unrelated kidnapping Sunday.
Ricardo Burks of the 400 block of South Augusta Avenue was later charged with the murder of a 25-year-old man in a house in the 400 block of Yale Avenue nearby. It was in the basement of that Southwest Baltimore row house, the police believe, that the three other people whose bodies were found in Odenton were also killed.
The names of those three victims -- aged 15, 19 and 20 -- were not disclosed pending notification of their families. Two of the victims were brothers.
"It was a bizarre circle of ridiculous killing," said Detective Mark Tomlin of the Baltimore homicide squad.
The first body to be found in the weekend of what police say was drug-inspired violence was that of Marvin Odell Willis III, whose body was discovered Sunday afternoon on the dining room floor of the Yale Avenue house.
The police had been sent to the Yale Avenue house by Mr. Burks' wife, Cynthia Burks, 32, who told the authorities Sunday that her husband had said he shot and killed Mr. Willis during an argument and struggle.
While investigating that murder, the police searched the two-story brick row house and found evidence of even more violence -- bloodstained clothing and other personal effects as well as spent shells -- that did not seem connected to the death of Mr. Willis.
But it was not until Mr. Burks was arrested early yesterday at the Terrace Motel on Washington Boulevard in Elkridge that investigators became aware of just what had happened over the weekend in the Yale Avenue row house in a quiet, working class neighborhood in Southwest Baltimore.
Detectives said that after they interviewed Mr. Burks yesterday, he directed them to the deserted fieldalong Lokus Road where )) the three bodies, tied up in an assortment of blankets and carpeting, were found lying next to an abandoned refrigerator just out of view from the road.
Detective Tomlin said the men's bodies had multiple gunshot and stab wounds and were just beginning to show signs of decomposition when the police recovered them late in the afternoon.
Detective Tomlin said the three victims were likely killed late Friday or early Saturday morning by Mr. Willis and Mr. Burks, who had been partners in a drug deal involving crack cocaine. The bodies were dumped in Odenton by the two late Saturday, he said.
The slayings took place after the five men argued over the quality of the crack cocaine that had recently changed hands, Detective Tomlin said.
After disposing of the three bodies, Mr. Burks and Mr. Willis returned to the Yale Avenue row house and "became involved in another altercation themselves" late Saturday night or early Sunday, Detective Tomlin said. It was then, the police believe, that Mr. Burks killed Mr. Willis.
The police said that after leaving the Yale Avenue house, Mr. Burks,for motives that are still not clear, made his way to Owings Mills where he kidnapped a young couple in the parking lot of the Sinai Fitness Center on Painters Mill Road about 7:30 a.m. Sunday.
Eric Sean Cada, 24, of the 8300 block of Silver Trumpet Way, Columbia, had been dropping off his girlfriend, Kimberly B. Goldscher, 22, of the 2900 block of Fallstaff Road, at her job when a man, later identified as Mr. Burks, approached them with two handguns and demanded their money, said E. Jay Miller, a Baltimore County police spokesman.
Mr. Cada surrendered $12 and his credit cards; Ms. Goldscher had no money.
At this point, the gunman then forced Ms. Goldscher into the back seat of Mr. Cada's Jeep Cherokee and ordered him to drive to an automatic teller machine at Route 108 and Bendix Road in Elkridge, where he forced Mr. Cada to withdraw $170.
The three then drove to a McDonald's Restaurant where the gunman ordered three Egg McMuffins and a cup of coffee.
The gunman then got into the driver's seat and drove the couple south on Interstate 95 to the Virginia Travelers Motel at the King's Dominion amusement park, north of Richmond, where they checked in about
noon. They stayed there until 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. Sunday before heading back to Maryland.
Meanwhile, Ms. Goldscher's parents had reported her as missing, and police in Howard County had been able to trace the movements of Mr. Cada through a credit card company.
On Sunday night, the three arrived back in Maryland and checked into the Terrace Motel on Washington Boulevard in Elkridge. The credit card company could only tell the police that the card had been used at a motel in the Arbutus-Elkridge area, but police from Baltimore and Howard counties searched motels along Washington Boulevard until they arrived at the Terrace Motel and found Mr. Cada's Jeep.
The manager of the motel told police that a young couple had checked in with a man. The police then forced their way into the room and arrested a sleeping Mr. Burks before he could get to either handgun, police said.
Residents of the 400 block of Yale Avenue said they had heard nothing unusual late Friday or early Sunday morning, when the shootings are believed to have taken place.