Boyfriend charged in reservoir killing Baltimore woman was bus aide

April 15, 1993|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

Howard County police say the boyfriend of a Baltimore woman whose body was found in Rocky Gorge Reservoir in Scaggsville is the key suspect in her killing.

Police yesterday identified Vanessa "Van" Armstead, 38, of the 1100 block of Argyle Ave. in West Baltimore as the woman a fisherman discovered dead in the reservoir about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. Ms. Armstead, the mother of six children and grandmother of two, worked as a school bus aide in Baltimore, friends and family said.

Her boyfriend, Marvin Philander Smith, 35, of no fixed address, is charged in an arrest warrant with first-degree murder. Police said that he is known to frequent Baltimore, but they believe that he might have fled to Washington or Richmond, Va. Mr. Smith has a criminal record that includes assaults and robberies, a police source said.

An autopsy revealed that Ms. Armstead died from multiple blunt injuries.

Investigators believe that she was struck on the head, dragged through a wooded area at Scotts Cove, then placed in a part of the reservoir in southern Howard County near the Montgomery County line.

Police said Mr. Smith was the last person seen with Ms. Armstead.

A daughter of Ms. Armstead, Shantel Geddis, 18, said Mr. Smith was at the family's home about 7 a.m. Tuesday and told her he didn't know her mother's whereabouts. He returned Tuesday afternoon, then left and has not returned, she said. She said Mr. Smith often was jealous of Ms. Armstead's spending time with her children, who range in age from 13 to 20.

Ms. Geddis said her mother had dated Mr. Smith for about two years.

Yesterday afternoon outside Ms. Armstead's brick rowhouse, Ms. Geddis described her mother as a kind, caring and giving woman.

"She got along with everybody," she said. "She didn't have any enemies."

The family reported Ms. Armstead missing Tuesday night, before police had identified her.

Her body was discovered in 1 to 2 feet of water near the shore of the reservoir, in the 11200 block of Harding Road.

L The death is the second homicide in Howard County this year.

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