Of the scores of slayings that Baltimore police spokesman Sam Ringgold has handled, none hit "close to home" until yesterday.
Mr. Ringgold was awakened yesterday morning by a homicide detective who informed him of the beating death of 74-year-old Jeromia B. O'Neal, who lived alone in the 1200 block of N. Caroline St.
The victim was the mother of Peter O'Neal, a cameraman for Channel 2 who portrays a photographer in the television series "Homicide."
Mr. Ringgold had been employed as a newsman at Channel 2 before joining the Police Department last year as director of public information.
"I was like . . . totally shocked," Mr. Ringgold said. "He [the detective] knew her son was a cameraman for Channel 2, but he didn't put two and two together . . . that I had also worked for Channel 2."
He said the slaying "really hit close to home. Pete is a good friend of mine. We used to stop by his mother's house and check on her all the time. He wanted her to move out of the neighborhood to Randallstown where he lives, but she refused. Now he is blaming himself for not pushing her hard enough to move."
Mrs. O'Neal's body was found shortly after midnight Wednesday by her son who had been unable to reach her by telephone, police said.
Because of his concern, the son had police meet him at the house where they found the victim lying dead on the living room floor. Her first-floor bedroom had been ransacked but police were uncertain what, if anything, had been taken.
Mr. O'Neal said he last spoke with his mother when he telephoned her Tuesday.
The slaying of Mrs. O'Neal was one of five reported in Baltimore City from about 10 p.m. Wednesday to about 10:30 a.m. yesterday. The slayings brought to 69 this year's number of homicides, two more than at this time last year, police said.
There were 335 homicides last year, the most in Baltimore history.
About 10:30 a.m. yesterday, police responding to a report of a shooting in the 500 block of Wilson St. found the body of Andre White, 18, who had been shot in the chest.
Police said they knew of no motive or suspects in the slaying of Mr. White, of the 1400 block of Wilmer Court.
Just before 11 p.m. Wednesday, Rajesh Mangatoo, 20, and his brother, Kamal A. Mangatoo, 22, were found by a neighbor shot to death in their basement apartment in the 5200 block of Bowley's Lane in Northeast Baltimore, said Agent Doug Price, a police spokesman.
He said that while several ounces of suspected marijuana were found in the apartment of the brothers, who were from Trinidad, police were uncertain of the motive for the slayings and have no suspects.
Police said they were still trying to identify a man who was found shot to death just before 10 p.m. Wednesday in the 4300 block of Moravia Road in Northeast Baltimore.
Meanwhile, the death of an 87-year-old woman who was knocked to the ground and robbed of her purse in front of her home March 5 has been ruled a homicide.
Clara K. Owens of the 3200 block of Chesterfield Ave. died March 11 at Francis Scott Key Medical Center from an embolism caused by injuries she suffered, Agent Price said.