Until Monday, 1964 manhunt for Veneys was city's largest

January 20, 1993|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writer

On Christmas Eve 1964, Lt. Joseph Maskell unknowingly walked in on an armed robbery of Luxie's Liquor Store on Greenmount Avenue at Worsley Street.

He was shot and seriously wounded.

About five hours later on Christmas Day, Sgt. Jack Lee Cooper, father of two, was shot and killed in the 2600 block of Kennedy Ave.

City police, enraged over the killing and wounding of two of their fellow officers, had within hours the names of two suspects -- Earl and Samuel Veney.

And they went after them with a vengeance.

The search for the Veney brothers was the largest manhunt in Baltimore history until Monday when convicted killer Dontay Carter escaped from the city's main court house.

For days, police -- sometimes assisted by city fire trucks -- roamed through Baltimore's black neighborhoods, mostly on the east side, looking for the Veneys.

They knocked down doors and raided known criminal hangouts without so much as a warrant. Dozens of suspects were brought in and questioned and later released with no explanation as to why they were detained. "It was madness, no doubt about it," said one police officer who helped search for the Veneys.

In all, more than 300 doors were bashed down by police who never found the Veneys in Baltimore.

That police action would be later described in an opinion written by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., as a "series of the most flagrant invasions of privacy ever to come under the scrutiny of the federal court."

A short time after the manhunt, the Veneys were found working in a zipper factory in New Jersey. Their trip back to Baltimore by train was highlighted by the fact that the brothers had become the first brother team to make the FBI's Most Wanted List.

In 1966, the Veneys went to trial in Frederick. Samuel Veney was convicted of Sgt. Cooper's murder and received a life sentence. He continues to serve time at the Brockbridge Correctional Facility. Earl Veney was convicted of two counts of armed robbery, one count of assault and one count of assault with intent to murder. He received a 30-year sentence.

In March of 1976, officers at the Maryland House of Correction at Jessup found Earl Veney hanging dead from a rope fashioned from a bedsheet.

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