2 charged in death of woman, 74 Police believe homicide was linked to check fraud case.

August 26, 1991|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Evening Sun Staff

Bail review hearings today in district court were set for two men charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 74-year-old Homeland woman, whose decomposed body was VTC found buried next to a Carroll County cornfield, Baltimore police said.

Charged with murder yesterday and being held at the Northern District station without bail are Troy Dominic Shellington, 20, of the 3600 block of Cottage Ave. in Pimlico, and Abras "Sandy" Morrison, 20, of the 6000 block of Lanette

Road in Rosedale, Baltimore County, police said.

Both are charged with the Aug. 15 murder of Margaret Cullen, 74, of the 5400 block of Springlake Way in Homeland, police said.

Cullen was believed stabbed to death on the morning of Aug. 15 after being dragged from a car and into the woods near a cornfield in the Greenmount section of Carroll County, about 10 miles northeast of Westminster, police said.

Police said Cullen was unconscious but alive during the drive to the cornfield, but cried out while being dragged into the woods when her body was cut by briars and was then stabbed to death by one of her abductors.

Her body was buried under a sheet of plastic in a section of woods, police said. The body would never have been found had not the owner of the field decided to turn the woods into a cornfield, police said.

Police believe that when Cullen came home Aug. 14 and found a pane of glass broken out of a back door, two men waiting outside the house suddenly charged in and subdued her.

The break-in was apparently committed in an effort to persuade Cullen to call her Signet Bank branch and tell officials there not to prosecute the person who forged her name on one of her checks and deposited $2,000 into his account, police said.

Police believe the forger was Morrison, who worked as a house-sitter for Cullen while her husband, E.B. Cullen, 80, a retired dentist who recently sold his practice, is hospitalized at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Police said Morrison had worked as E.B. Cullen's private nursing aide at Good Samaritan and was known by the couple.

After the men broke into her house, police said, Cullen called the bank under duress and asked an official not to prosecute the alleged forger. The official became suspicious and said she would come over and talk to Cullen about the matter, police said.

It is believed that following the phone call, Cullen was bound to a chair and gagged, police said.

Police said the men then put a note in the window telling a nurse who was expected any moment that Cullen was out shopping. Later, the bank official arrived and left when she saw the note. It was not known if the nurse also showed up and left.

After nightfall, police believe, the men carried Cullen from the house and placed her in her 1984 Cadillac Eldorado.

Believing the woman was dead, the men drove to Carroll County early on the morning of Aug. 15 and eventually found an access road to the woods near a cornfield in Greenmount, police said.

Police said Cullen was revived while being dragged and cried out when her body was pricked by briars. She was then stabbed to death and buried in the woods, police said.

When Cullen's disappearance, her failure to visit her husband for several days and her report to the Northern District about the forged check were investigated as part of a related incident, police forced their way into Cullen's home on Saturday.

There, police found a note with the name "Troy" and several addresses.

Police checked the addresses and learned they belonged to relatives of Shellington's and went looking for him in the Pimlico area.

Saturday evening, homicide detectives under Sgt. Roger Nolan spotted Cullen's car in the 3600 block of Cottage Ave. and arrested its occupants, Morrison and Shellington.

Following an interview at police headquarters, Shellington agreed to take police to where Cullen was buried.

Police said each man has implicated the other in Cullen's death, one saying she was strangled and the other that she was stabbed.

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