From late Monday night until early yesterday morning, an Overlea woman and her two daughters were held captive by two men who raped one of the daughters and forced their mother to open and help rob the bank branch where she worked.
Baltimore County police said yesterday that the men -- who had the women under surveillance for a month before the robbery -- freed the women in their own car on Belair Road just inside the Baltimore Beltway about eight hours after their ordeal began.
Police said that no shots were fired and that the women, whose names were being withheld, escaped without further injury.
The assailants, one of whom wielded a revolver, escaped with several thousand dollars from the Sequoia Federal Savings Bank branch in the 8000 block of Belair Road.
The men, both in their 20s, apparently knew that the woman worked at the bank and that she would have access to keys, said Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a Baltimore County police spokesman.
"Based on the conversations that the suspects had with the victims, [the two men] were familiar with the mother" and her position at the bank, he said.
But the woman and her daughters told police they had never seen the men before. They described one as 5 feet tall or shorter, 20 years old, with blond hair and a big nose, the other as about 5 foot 10, about 25, with a thin face and sparse beard. Both wore blue plaid shirts and blue baseball caps, police said.
The older man, described as the more "dominant" of the two, had a "froggy, deep" voice and coughed and sneezed constantly, said E. Jay Miller, another police spokesman.
About 10:45 p.m. Monday, the two men burst into the victims' house in Overlea, where the mother has lived for about 20 years, through an unlocked front door. The door, behind a locked screen door, had been left open because of the hot weather.
The men confronted the 44-year-old woman and her 16-year-old daughter in the living room of the modest, two-story house, then forced them at gunpoint to a second-floor rear bedroom, where they tied up the women and taped their mouths.
About 15 minutes later, the other daughter, 20, walked into the house, Sergeant Doarnberger said. Both of the men raped her in another bedroom, then both ransacked the house, taking jewelry and a small amount of money.
While the men were in the house they fixed themselves sandwiches and a pot of coffee. Both were heavy smokers, flushing the butts of their cigarettes down the toilet, and reeked of tobacco. During the night, the men talked to the women several times.
The women told police that the men told them about a party the women had at their house in mid-June and described the clothing the mother wore to work one day last week. The men emphasized that the purpose of the surveillance was to rob the bank. Mr. Miller said two men had stalked the family for more than a month.
About 5 a.m. yesterday, the women were untied and ordered into the family's 10-year-old car.
The mother was ordered to drive around Overlea and through sections of northern Baltimore County, with which the men seemed familiar, for several hours with her daughters and the two men, Mr. Miller said.
Between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., they stopped in front of a Hardee's restaurant in the 7900 block of Belair Road, where the daughters were forced out of the car and ordered to wait with one of the men, who was holding a knife, on the parking lot behind the Hardee's while the other man drove their mother to the bank, about a block away.
A supervisor at the Hardee's said that the restaurant opens at 6 a.m. but that, as far as he knew, no one there saw anything. "We are asking customers," he said.
zTC The man who went with the mother ordered her to open the bank vault, remove money and return within three minutes while he waited in the car.
Police said the robbers apparently expected to get more money than they did, which was several thousand dollars in two teller trays. Such a tray generally contains less than $2,000.
The two then drove back to the restaurant and picked up the daughters and the other man, Mr. Miller said.
They drove south on Belair Road to Fullerton Avenue, less than a mile south of the Beltway, where both men got out of the car, warned the women not to call the police and left.
The women returned to the bank, where they called police about 7:30 a.m. The 20-year-old who was raped was treated and released at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, police said.
Caroline Clark, who lives near the victims, said she and her two daughters think they saw the two men walking up the opposite side of the quiet street as the women were returning home about 10:30 p.m. Monday. "I'm positive it was them," she said. "They were ugly characters, really scrungy."
Baltimore County police say they have formed a 30-member task force with FBI agents to investigate the kidnapping and bank robbery, a federal crime.
Anyone with information is asked to call Baltimore County police at 887-2198.