A 38-year-old man who police believe hacked his invalid mother to death with a kitchen knife yesterday morning committed suicide in front of four Anne Arundel County police officers.
Dan Nimmo used a .50-caliber powder rifle to shoot himself in the chest about 11:30 a.m. while sitting in his mother's 1986 Dodge, which he'd parked at the end of Loch Haven Road in Mayo.
"We yelled at him several times to get out of the car," said police spokesman V. Richard Molloy, one of the officers on the scene. "But he would not come out."
Investigators had been searching for Mr. Nimmo in connection with the death of his 71-year-old mother, Estella Nimmo. Officer Molloy said Mr. Nimmo was the prime suspect in the case, which is now considered closed.
A nurse who came three days a week to help Mrs. Nimmo found her body shortly before 8 a.m. yesterday in the bedroom of her home in the 3800 block of Holly Drive, just south of Annapolis.
Mrs. Nimmo, an emphysema patient who required oxygen tanks, had been attacked with the knife as she lay in bed, police said. A passer-by flagged down an officer patrolling the Mayo area at 11:25 a.m., saying he had seen a car matching the description of Mrs. Nimmo's parked on Loch Haven Road.
Seated in the car's front seat, Mr. Nimmo apparently saw the police pull up and began fumbling with the gun.
Officer Malloy said that particular type of rifle must be filled with gunpowder and cotton wadding before a bullet can be loaded. "Then he used a rod to pack it," he said, adding Mr. Nimmo had locked himself in the car with the windows rolled up.
"As soon as he shot himself, we broke the windows out and tried to help him, but it was too late," Officer Molloy said.
Dan Nimmo had tended to his mother for about seven years, according to a neighbor. She said the son cooked and cleaned for the bedridden woman and took care of her personal needs.
"I talked with her Monday over phone and she never mentioned Danny or acted like anything was wrong," said the neighbor, who requested anonymity.
She also said Mr. Nimmo would stand in the front window and "think people were coming to get him."
In police radio broadcasts, dispatchers had told county officers that the son had a history of mental problems and drug abuse.
Collin MacKenzie, another neighbor, said the family had lived in the community for more than 25 years.
"He used to cut the grass around here last spring and he seemed real nice and polite," Mr. MacKenzie said of the son Dan. "All of her kids were."
He said Mrs. Nimmo had two other grown sons and two daughters.
Police found pans of kerosene scattered throughout the single-level rancher. A bedsheet had been dipped in one of the pans and attached to the inside of a toaster.
The electricity had been turned off. Police theorize the killer had intended to go outside and switch the electricity back on to set the house on fire.