Suicide tried by man charged in car death

September 11, 1992|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

Rodney Eugene Soloman, the Washington man charged with murder in the car-hijacking death of a Howard County woman, was discovered yesterday afternoon in his cell with a sheet looped around his neck, the county Detention Center's director said.

Mr. Soloman, 26, was placed on a suicide watch, the director, James Rollins, said in a prepared statement. Officers removed the sheet from around his neck and emergency personnel provided medical assistance, Mr. Rollins said.

Mr. Rollins said authorities suspect that Mr. Soloman made the apparent suicide attempt in an effort to be removed from the detention center. He was interviewed by an institutional psychiatrist and returned to his cell wearing a white paper jumpsuit.

Mr. Soloman and Bernard Eric Miller, 16, also of Washington, were charged Tuesday with first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery and felony theft in connection with the death of Pamela Basu of Savage.

Yesterday, the medical examiner's office said Dr. Basu died of multiple injuries after her left arm was caught in the driver's side seat belt and she became suspended from the driver's door. She was dragged two miles from a stop sign near her house by her BMW.

The injuries mainly involved the right side of her body, the medical examiner said.

Dr. Basu, a chemist for W. R. Grace Co., planned to take her 22-month-old daughter to a preschool that morning, police said.

Both suspects in the case are being held without bail in isolation at the detention center. Both have requested attorneys, which has delayed their bail-review hearings.

The teen-ager's mother, Deborah Miller, said yesterday that her son was forced into the car that dragged Dr. Basu to her death.

"My son had to be influenced," said Ms. Miller, 33, in her brick rowhouse on 59th Place. "It's not like my son. He uses his brains."

Ms. Miller said she hasn't been able to sleep since the arrest. She plans to visit her son today and to try to get an attorney for him. She said her son's father, a Marine stationed in New York, also plans to visit.

When she saw her son at the detention center the night of his arrest, Ms. Miller said, he denied any involvement in the crimes.

"Bernard is no dumb child," Ms. Miller said. "That boy [Mr. Soloman] had to do something."

The incident began about 8 a.m. Tuesday when the Miller youth and Mr. Soloman drove to Howard County with a teen-age girl and boy to take the girl to the Woodstock Job Corps Center, police said. Police later determined that their car's plates were stolen.

The four got lost and eventually ran out of gas on Interstate 95, police said. Police said Mr. Soloman and the Miller youth left on foot and later tried to hijack a car at a rest area on I-95, police said, then took Dr. Basu's BMW and dumped her daughter on the side of Gorman Road.

The child was still strapped to the car seat when a woman rescued her, police said. She was unharmed.

The two were arrested shortly after 10 a.m. about six miles from the abduction scene after an officer spotted the stolen BMW.

Ms. Miller said the teen-age boy who remained in the Cadillac after it ran out of gas told her that her son was forced to go.

He "told me that [Mr. Soloman] made Bernard go with him to get gas," she said.

Detective Mike Sherman, a county police spokesman, said the police have no evidence that the Miller youth was coerced.

The last time Ms. Miller saw her son before his arrest was Monday afternoon, when he left to buy school clothes, she said. Ms. Miller, a former in-home support nurse, is unemployed.

The Miller youth is the oldest of three boys in the family. He transferred from the eighth grade at W. Bruce Evans Junior High School in Washington and skipped a grade to attend Howard D. Woodson High School, his mother said.

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