Murder victim's roommate pleads guilty

July 12, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

Christopher Edwin Giese went to the manager of the Household Bank branch in Abingdon on May 24, 1990, to find out about unauthorized checks being written from his account.

The 18-year-old Aberdeen resident told the manager that he had an idea who took his money and that he would "go home to check on something," according to a police report filed in Harford Circuit Court.

But the banker never heard from Mr. Giese again.

Six days after the meeting, the body of Mr. Giese was found floating in Church Creek, about a mile west of Aberdeen.

Investigators from the county Sheriff's Office did not resolve the case until October 1991 -- when they charged Mr. Giese's roommate in the slaying.

On Monday, suspect John Henry Murphy of Aberdeen entered an Alford plea to second-degree murder and theft, avoiding a trial on first-degree murder, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

With an Alford plea, Murphy, 22, declines to admit guilt but acknowledges that the prosecution has enough evidence for a conviction.

Investigators were at first unable to identify the man whose body was tied up with hemp and wrapped in a blue-and-green sleeping bag weighted with rocks.

The man was stabbed in the right shoulder, with part of the blade still embedded in the body. He had been shot twice with a small-caliber weapon -- once in the face and again in the chest.

About a week later, police identified the corpse as that of Mr. Giese after his parents saw a newspaper story about the body in the creek and went to detectives.

Investigators now knew the victim. Next they needed the killer.

The investigation led detectives to Mr. Giese's roommate, Murphy.

The roommate, according to police reports, told the detectives on June 7 that Mr. Giese left for Ocean City on May 25 -- five days before his body was discovered.

Murphy also permitted the police to search the home he shared with Mr. Giese in the 1400 block of South Philadelphia Blvd. There, detectives found pieces of hemp in the hallway, traces of blood in the victim's bedroom and a .22-caliber rifle in the attic.

Murphy told the detectives during the meeting that he would be available for further questioning. But that was the last police heard from Murphy for nearly a year.

Meanwhile, investigators said in the report that Mr. Giese was last seen at an Aberdeen restaurant eating french fries with gravy on May 25 -- the day Murphy told police he left for Ocean City. Traces of the food were found in Mr. Giese's stomach during an autopsy by the state Medical Examiner's Office.

Police also learned about Mr. Giese's meeting with the Household Bank manager about the unauthorized checks. Court records did not disclose the amount of the checks.

For months, investigators continued to search for Murphy. In spring 1991, he was found in Millersville, Pa., working as an assistant manager of a clothing store in nearby Lancaster.

"Before arrangements could be made to conduct an interview with the defendant, he disappeared again," police said in a report.

Murphy was found again in September 1991, still in Millersville, records say.

The next month, police confronted Murphy about the discrepancies in his statements. Murphy admitted that he and Mr. Giese had a confrontation over the checks at their home on May 25.

During the confrontation, police allege that Murphy stabbed Mr. Giese in the right shoulder, breaking off the blade. Murphy then shot the victim twice.

Police charged Murphy with first-degree murder, attempted murder, assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to maim, assault and battery, and two counts of theft.

Following his Alford plea, the defendant faces a sentence of up to 45 years in prison for second-degree murder and theft. He will be sentenced Sept. 10.

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