WESTMINSTER -- State police announced last night that they had arrested a suspect in the slaying of a Carroll County hardware store owner gunned down as he tended his store 13 days ago.
Members of the criminal investigation unit working from the Westminster state police barracks arrested Michael C. Bryson, 25, about 6:30 p.m. yesterday and charged him in the slaying of Charles W. Therit Jr., 51.
State police spokesman Chuck Jackson said the Manchester man was arrested without incident. Mr. Bryson, who has no fixed address but has relatives in the Melrose area, was taken into custody at a house on East Deep Run Road, a short distance from the hardware store where Mr. Therit was killed.
Mr. Therit, the operator of Deep Run Hardware in Melrose, was shot shortly before 8 p.m. March 25. He died from a shotgun blast to his face.
Charges of first-degree murder, armed robbery and theft were being processed against Mr. Bryson last night.
Mr. Jackson said Mr. Bryson would probably be taken before a District Court commissioner to determine his bail early this morning.
Police assigned to the investigation said robbery was the apparent motive for the killing.
Mr. Jackson said Mr. Bryson was arrested because of "physical evidence gathered at the scene and from accounts given by witnesses at or near the crime scene."
The cash drawer of the store's register was open when Mr. Therit's body was found. The slaying was Carroll County's first homicide this year. Mr. Therit's death stunned the residents of Melrose, a small town just north of Manchester.
The Therit family is well-known in the area. The victim's parents had operated a general grocery store in the building for years, and his seven brothers and sisters were fixtures in the community.
Former employees said Mr. Therit knew most of his customers by name.
Edward Shock, who owned the delicatessen next to the hardware store, said Mr. Therit taught archery.