Prosecutor's in-law among 2 slain Westminster police find grisly scene

August 04, 1993|By Darren M. Allen and Bill Talbott | Darren M. Allen and Bill Talbott,Staff Writers Staff writer Donna Boller contributed to this article.

Two people were found stabbed to death in a Westminster apartment Monday night, authorities said yesterday.

One of the victims was a brother-in-law of Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman.

Westminster police said the bodies of Cathryn B. Farrar, 39, who was unemployed, and George W. Wahl, 35, a crew member at the Westminster McDonald's, were found about 9:30 p.m.

They were in separate rooms of Ms. Farrar's apartment in the Bishop's Garth apartment complex on Charles Street and were found after neighbors noticed a foul odor, police said.

The pair had been dead for several days, authorities said.

The slayings are the second and third homicides of the year in Westminster.

Westminster police divulged little information about the Bishop's Garth slayings.

But sources said several city police detectives are tracking leads in northern Florida. Westminster Police Chief Sam R. Leppo last night would neither confirm nor deny that account.

Investigators said that Ms. Farrar had not been seen recently. The investigators entered her apartment Monday night after the neighbors complained.

Mr. Wahl lived nearby, at his mother's townhouse on Bishop Court.

At a news conference yesterday, Chief Leppo declined to discuss the cause of the deaths, the time of the deaths or whether the apartment had been ransacked, but he said that the bodies were found in separate bedrooms.

Both bodies were taken to the office of the state medical examiner in Baltimore, where autopsies were to be performed.

While Carroll prosecutors are usually called to help with the investigation of serious crimes in the county, Mr. Hickman said in a press statement yesterday that his office's role will be a limited one because of his relationship to one of the victims.

"On Tuesday . . . I learned that two people had been found murdered in an apartment in the city of Westminster. One of these individuals was George William Wahl, age 35, who is a brother-in-law to me and the oldest brother of my wife," Mr. Hickman said.

"Because any public statement by me relating to our personal feelings or the facts of this case could possibly prejudice the rights of those charged to a fair trial, I will refrain from doing so."

He said that while some members of his office are assisting in the investigation, he will not participate in "any presentation to a grand jury or any trial which may result from these proceedings."

It was not clear whether prosecution in the case would be turned over to prosecutors in another county.

Mr. Wahl was charged with several drug crimes -- including a felony -- in September 1989 after a raid on his mother's townhouse.

Sgt. Andrew McKendrick -- now an officer in the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force -- said in District Court charging papers in that case that "several live and growing marijuana plants were recovered" in the raid, along with a small bag of marijuana and rolling papers.

Mr. Wahl was charged with manufacturing marijuana, possession marijuana with intent to distribute, maintaining a common nuisance, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested several days after the raid.

Beverly A. Clelland -- Mr. Wahl's mother and Mr. Hickman's mother-in-law -- posted $1,000 bail for her son in October. In November, Mr. Hickman transferred the prosecution of the case to the Howard County state's attorney's office. Prosecutors there placed the charges on the inactive docket in March 1990.

In his statement, Mr. Hickman said the double slaying "does not involve drugs or other illegal activity on the part of the victims nor other residents of the neighborhood."

Police said the deaths bring to five the number of homicides recorded in Westminster in the past 5 1/2 years.

It is that city's first double homicide since March 1988, when police found the body of Donald Jones, 34, of Westminster near the unconscious Joan M. Stavropulos, 27, in a motel room on Route 140.

An investigation led police to Stavropulos' Westminster apartment, where they found David F. Farmer, 28, of Montgomery County, dead of stab wounds.

An autopsy determined that Mr. Jones had died from an overdose of prescription drugs.

Stavropulos was convicted of involuntary manslaughter connected to the two men's deaths.

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