2 troopers' thoroughness probed

February 19, 1992|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writer

Maryland State Police and the MVA have launched a joint investigation to determine why two state troopers failed to detain a man who tried to rent a vehicle using a credit card and driver's license that had been taken from a kidnap victim.

The investigation also is to focus on how Dontay Carter -- who was charged with the Feb. 11 abduction and murder of Vitalis Pilius, 37, of Catonsville, and abducting two other men between Feb. 7 and Feb. 14 --was apparently able to obtain two fraudulent licenses at the MVA's Mondawmin office.

"We are conducting an investigation cooperatively with the Motor Vehicle Administration," said Chuck Jackson, a state police spokesman.

"I don't want to characterize this as an investigation. It is an administrative review, and preliminarily we feel that these troopers who were called to the Budget Rent-A-Car counter to investigate did so thoroughly and properly. As a result of that investigation, we had no probable cause or evidence to charge this individual," Mr. Jackson said.

Authorities say a young man identified as Carter appeared at the rental car office at Baltimore-Washington International Airport just hours after Mr. Pilius was abducted and slain. Two state troopers were called after a clerk questioned the man's age and noted irregularities in the man's signature on the rental car application and the signature on Mr. Pilius' credit card.

Mr. Jackson said the troopers conducted a license check, an MVA check for outstanding traffic warrants and a brief criminal check to determine if Carter was wanted. All checks came back negative, he said.

"On Tuesday night the report that we had was the fraudulent use of a credit card. That's what we were called to investigate," Mr. Jackson said. When the information on the credit card did not check out, the clerk from the car rental firm kept it.

"At that point, as far as we were concerned, our investigation was completed," Mr. Jackson said. "We feel that the two troopers conducted a thorough and proper investigation."

The administrative review, which will be conducted by the officers' superiors at BWI, will consist of a review of written reports on the call, Mr. Jackson said.

"Today we know more than we did on the 11th, and because of the events that have unfurled in the last 48 hours, we feel compelled to conduct a thorough review of all the matters relating to this individual and the matters that had any involvement with the Maryland State Police," he said.

Meanwhile, the MVA is examining a scheme allegedly used by Mr. Carter to obtain fraudulent licenses at the MVA's Mondawmin office.

Mr. Carter allegedly obliterated the photos on the licenses of two victims, Mr. Pilius and Dr. Daniel Ford. He took the licenses to the MVA office, claimed they were his, and requested new licenses which had his photo affixed to them.

Thomas Walsh, an associate administrator at the MVA, said the agency is trying to determine how easily phony licenses may be obtained at its 19 field offices.

"We don't think it is a widespread practice," said Mr. Walsh. He said MVA employees who issue driver's licenses or MVA identification cards will be reminded that obliterated photos "are potential misrepresentations.

"They will be reminded that each person seeking a new license from a destroyed card must present additional documentation," Mr. Walsh said. "We will make sure our people are certain that they recognize misrepresentation," he added.

Carter and another suspect, Clarence Woodward, 16, of the 2400 block of Hoffman Street, have been charged with murdering Mr. Pilius. Carter, Dwayne Reed, of the 5500 block of The Alameda, and Damien Daniels, 18, of the 2200 block of Henneman Avenue, have been charged with abducting Dr. Ford, a Johns Hopkins physician.

Carter is charged with kidnapping a third man, Douglas Legenhausen, 46, a wholesale jeweler.

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