Arson Case Witness Is Assaulted

Woman Is Stabbed, Beaten And Warned Not To Testify

February 26, 1992|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff writer

County police and fire investigators are looking for a man who has twice attacked a key witness in an arson case against a former county firefighter.

The woman, a prosecution witness in the case against Richard Michael Freed, 34, was stabbed in the hand at 12:30 p.m. Thursday outside the Giant grocery store in Cromwell Shopping Center on Dorsey Road, said Capt. Gary Sheckells, Fire Department spokesman.

On Sunday, the woman was beaten by the same man outside a Royal Farms store on Martin Luther King and Washington boulevards in Baltimore, Sheckells said.

"The man punched her in the face and head several times," Sheckells said.

Her attacker, whom she did not recognize, warned her about her testimony both times, he said.

The woman described the man as white, about 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds. He appeared to be in his 30s and had short black hair combed to theside.

The woman is now under 24-hour protection, Sheckells said.

Freed, who worked at the Arminger fire station in Pasadena, is charged with arson and conspiracy in connection with a Jan. 15 fire thatheavily damaged a home in the unit block of Wendover Road in Glen Burnie.

The owner of the home, 28-year-old Richard Lee Yost of Baltimore, is charged with arson, reckless endangerment and conspiracy.

According to court records, investigators intercepted a phone conversation between the woman and Freed. In it, investigators said, Freed said he had prior knowledge of the fire and had discussed ways to setit with Yost.

Sheckells said Yost and Freed, who are awaiting trial, met through the home-improvement business that Freed operated in his off-duty hours. Freed had done renovations to the Yost home.

Freed was recently charged with obstruction of justice in connection with several threatening phone calls fire investigators say were made to the woman since his Nov. 23 arrest.

Sheckells said investigators do not believe that either Freed or Yost attacked the witness.

Freed was fired from the department Dec. 26 after a departmental hearing on the case, Sheckells said.

A charging document in Yost's court file alleges that he called Freed at the Arminger station on Jan. 15 and said the house on Wendover Road "was going to burn" and that hehad put a blanket over the space heater.

Firefighters were calledto the home at about 6:50 p.m. for a blaze that caused $150,000 in damage.

A second fire at the home, in June, is still under investigation, Sheckells said.

Anyone with any information about the attacks should call fire investigators between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. at 787-1610 or at the 24-hour number, 987-4010.

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