Tenant sought in Liberty Heights slayings

July 02, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

A Northwest Baltimore man was charged yesterday with bludgeoning a husband and wife to death, possibly while in a rage triggered by his recent termination from a landscaping business where he worked with the husband, police said.

Sean Xavier Griffin, 25, who lived in the basement of the slain couple's rowhouse in the 3400 block of Liberty Heights Ave., is charged in a warrant with two counts of first-degree murder, police said. He remained on the run last night.

The bodies of Emmanuel "Peter" Burrus, 37, and his wife, Dawn (( Burrus, 29, were found by Mr. Burrus' sister about 10 p.m. Wednesday. Mr. Burrus' body was in the basement and that of Mrs. Burrus in a first-floor bathroom. Both victims had been bound and beaten about the head, police said.

Police said the killer took Ms. Burrus' car, a blue Chevrolet Cavalier, but it was recovered yesterday at the corner of Springdale Avenue and Hilton Road, about four blocks from the victims' two-story brick and shingle house.

Neighbors in the area had reported hearing shouts coming from the house, followed by what seemed to be pleading from one of the victims, police said.

The sister went to check on the Burruses after they failed to report to their jobs with the Giant Food supermarket chain Wednesday morning and afternoon.

Mrs. Burrus had worked for at least six years as a pharmacy clerk at the Giant store at Liberty and Milford Mill roads.

Mr. Burrus, who used to work in the same store as his wife, had most recently worked at the seafood counter at a Reisterstown Road store.

L Mr. Burrus had a second job as a landscaper, neighbors said.

Until recently, Mr. Griffin had worked for the same landscaping business but was fired, which may have caused some friction in the household, police said.

The Burruses had been married about three years, relatives said.

At Giant Food, the Burruses were considered excellent employees, said Karen Parrott, a pharmacy clerk who worked with Mrs. Burrus for six years.

"She was very punctual and a good worker. She had won merit awards for outstanding customer service," Ms. Parrott said, adding that Ms. Burrus had two relatives who also work for the Giant chain.

Giant employees are in a "state of shock" over the killings, Ms. Parrott said. She said the couple had spoken recently of problems with Mr. Griffin.

"They were wary of him. They feared he would retaliate [against them over] his termination," Ms. Parrott said.

Police ask anyone with information about the case to call the homicide unit at 396-2100.

The slayings of the Burruses brought to 172 the number of people killed in Baltimore so far this year, compared with 153 at this time last year.

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