Jehovah's Witness is slain in housing complex

February 13, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

A 58-year-old woman who canvassed East Baltimore neighborhoods to spread the word of God as a Jehovah's Witness was found slain last night in her first-floor apartment at the Johnston Square subsidized housing complex, police said.

Amelia Scott was found by a relative about 6 p.m. Detectives said that she had been stabbed to death and that they were checking the apartment to determine if anything had been taken.

She was last heard from about 6 p.m. Thursday, police said.

No signs of forced entry were found and it was unknown why anyone would have wanted to kill Ms. Scott, police said. The seven-story complex, in the 500 block of E. Preston St. at Greenmount Ave., is home to many senior citizens and low-income families.

"It's a sign of the times, I'm afraid. No one is safe from crime," said Leon Marshall, 40, a Jehovah's Witness from North Baltimore who stood with his wife, Barbara, outside Ms. Scott's door last night. He and his wife had known Ms. Scott for about 17 years.

Known as "Sister Amelia" in her congregation, Ms. Scott had been a Jehovah's Witness for more than 20 years. Her most recent missionary route included many crime-ridden neighborhoods around her home, Mr. Marshall said.

"She was very dedicated. Her health was not good lately, but she always looked well when we saw her, and it didn't stop her" from going door-to-door to talk to people, Mrs. Marshall said.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe they adhere to the oldest religion on Earth, the worship of Almighty God revealed in the Bible as Jehovah. Witnesses refuse to bear arms, salute the flag or participate in secular government.

Ms. Scott's daughter, brother and other relatives gathered outside herdoor last night to talk with detectives, who determined that nothing was missing but were still looking for clues. They said Ms. Scott had moved to Baltimore two years ago from South Carolina.

The Johnston Square building, with 224 apartments available under Section 8 housing assistance, has had its share of crime problems, said Irvin Parker, 73, who lives there and is president of the tenants' association.

"This is a nice building, very well kept on the inside," said Mr. Parker, showing clean and homey recreation and dining rooms.

"But it's in a bad area. Criminals have broken in and robbed people like crazy."

Recently, a young man was found dead in an elevator from a drug overdose and some elderly women have had their purses snatched as they'vewalked on the first floor, Mr. Parker said. "People think, 'Well, there are mostly senior citizens and handicapped people living here, so there's no crime.' But that's not the case," Mr. Parker said. "We've still got dope pushers living here. I know of a guy who's in a wheelchair and sells dope in the building."

The security for the building is provided by a guard who sits at the front desk. Anyone entering the building must be buzzed in by a resident and then sign a register.

"People usually get in by buzzing a whole bunch of numbers and eventually somebody lets them in. It's not hard," Mr. Parker said.

Mr. and Mrs. Marshall said they would be spreading the word about the murder among the Jehovah's Witnesses in the Baltimore area and a service will be held for Ms. Scott.

"We're appalled when anyone is killed. We try to control the rage, the anger, but it's not easy," Mr. Marshall said.

"I still feel anger at the justice system, which is very imperfect," he said. "But then, imperfect man is running it."

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