Westminster police pledge to respond to complex where couple was killed

August 12, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Residents of Bishop's Garth apartment complex in Westminster vented some frustration with the city police, won pledges that police will respond to their calls and expressed interest in forming a neighborhood watch program last night.

About 30 tenants met with City Council members and representatives of the city Police Department and Carroll state's attorney's office. The gathering was prompted by the stabbing deaths of Cathryn E. Farrar, 39, and George "Billy" Wahl, 35, of Westminster, whose bodies were found Aug. 2 in Ms. Farrar's apartment.

Police Chief Sam R. Leppo produced a telephone log last night in response to residents' allegations of a 45-minute lag between the call reporting a suspicious odor from Ms. Farrar's apartment and an officer's arrival. The log showed that police responded to the 9:02 p.m. call within six minutes.

Some residents told Chief Leppo they resented his public comment last week that lives might have been saved if neighbors had contacted police sooner.

One woman asked what the police response would have been if tenants had called July 29 -- the day police believe the homicides occurred -- to report that a young man was seen climbing into the apartment through a window. Tenants later told reporters that it is common for tenants who lose their keys to get in through the windows.

"That would have been checked out," said Lt. Dean Brewer. "We don't let anything go by."

His reply drew some snickers and some smiles. One woman said she had called police with complaints and gotten no response. Property manager Louis Wright said some residents "feel that because it's Section 8 [subsidized] housing, the police tend to look down on them."

Residents also expressed concern about drugs in the complex. Lieutenant Brewer promised investigations if residents call in drug tips. Callers can remain anonymous, he said.

Mr. Wright said he believes the drug problem is "minimal" in the 72-unit complex.

Tenants Miki Forchheimer and Christina Keith expressed interest in organizing a neighborhood crime watch. Councilwoman Rebecca A. Orenstein, who has been involved in forming a group in her neighborhood, promised help.

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