Hairs link twin to killing, court told Trial under way in girl's death

April 03, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

The FBI laboratory's senior hair expert testified yesterday that microscopic air pockets -- a condition he's never seen in hair before -- enabled him to link one of two identical twins to a runaway Halethorpe girl who was found raped and strangled June 4.

It was the first direct evidence against Jerome Page, 35, of the 2100 block of Monumental Ave. in Halethorpe, who is on trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court on charges of murder, rape and sodomy in the death of Amanda Lee Hall, 15.

His identical twin brother, Tyrone Page, faces trial next month on the same charges. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty against Tyrone Page, charging that he actually strangled Amanda.

According to witnesses, the girl was sleeping that night on the concrete outside the neighborhood recreation center on Northeast Avenue -- not far from her home in the 2000 block of Putnam Ave.

Amanda's body, bruised and nude from the waste down, was found the next day wrapped in a blue blanket beside an overgrown roadway at the end of Halethorpe Avenue. Her parents had reported her missing June 1.

On the body and the blanket, investigators found dozens of hairs, said Agent Michael P. Malone, senior examiner of hair and fibers at the FBI lab in Washington.

Agent Malone testified that he compared them with hair samples from the twins and from Amanda's boyfriend and another man seen with her that night, he said. The twins' samples matched those from the crime scene in about 20 characteristics, he said.

While hairs aren't unique, like fingerprints, Agent Malone said that in 18 years and some 4,000 cases, he's only had three cases in which he couldn't distinguish between hairs from two different people.

Twins might have posed a problem with their identical DNA, he said, but diet, environment and other factors also affect hair. In this case, he said, he found "abnormal microscopic voids" in Jerome Page's hair -- little air spaces where there should have been cells.

"In 18 years of looking at hair, I've never seen anything like this," he said, showing enlarged photographs to the jury.

In all, he said he clearly matched Jerome Page's hairs to a dozen recovered from the blanket and three from Amanda's body.

Other witnesses have placed both twins near the scene the night of the murder.

In other testimony yesterday, two employees of a convenience story near the recreation center said Tyrone Page came in just after midnight June 4 to buy hot chocolate and said he was going to take it to Amanda in hopes of seducing her.

Dehl Williams, 22, who was off duty but helping out at the store, said the man introduced himself as "Tyrone" and described a girl whom whom Mr. Williams recognized as Amanda. He said Tyrone told him, ". . . if I get her some hot chocolate, maybe she'll give me some."

Rachel White, the employee on duty at the store, said she clearly saw Jerome Page waiting outside the store during the conversation.

Medical Examiner Frank Peretti testified yesterday that Amanda, virgin, had been raped, sodomized and then strangled with great force. The weapon may have been the straps of her striped bibbed overall shorts, he said.

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