County police have "a million leads" to check in the murder of Joanne S. Valentine of Arnold, including business dealings related to two popular Pasadena nightclubs she ran with her husband.
"We're looking at everything, including the business and associates with the business," said Sgt. Robert Jaschik, head of the homicide unit.
Mrs. Valentine was shot to death about 4 a.m. Sunday as she returned home after closing the nightclubs, A. L. Gators, in the 8500 block of Ft. Smallwood Road, and Rumblefish, in the 7900 block of Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd.
"People who have these kinds of business have lots of enemies," Sergeant Jaschik said. "Everybody has different theories. We have evidence that this could be random, and we have evidence that it might not be random."
Although police say they know of no motive for the shooting, Anna Wagner, Mrs. Valentine's mother-in-law, said that the assailants did not take $3,000 in cash that Mrs. Valentine had in her car, nor did they take any of her jewelry.
"All I can say is that I don't think it was a robbery," she said.
Witnesses told police that Mrs. Valentine, 47, pulled into the driveway of her waterfront home, got out and confronted three or four men who were in a car that followed her up to the garage, about 200 feet from Broadwater Road.
Police said Mrs. Valentine exchanged harsh words with one of the men inside the car. A moment later, two shots rang out. One struck her in the head. She died about 7 a.m. at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Police said her husband, Vincent N. Valentine, witnessed the argument and "saw the shot go off," Sergeant Jaschik said.
Mrs. Wagner, who lives next door to the family, said she was awakened by the shots and got up in time to see a car driving off.
Police described the car as a small, Japanese import, but they said it was not the 1980 Toyota Corolla that was stolen from a person delivering pizzas in the neighborhood earlier in the evening. The pizza delivery car was taken at gunpoint by a man wearing a Ronald Reagan mask and was abandoned eight blocks from the Valentine residence.
Police have not decided whether the carjacking is related to Mrs. Valentine's murder and continue to include it as part of their investigation, Sergeant Jaschik said.
The two bars have a troubled past. Neighbors have filed complaints about noise and a lack of sanitation. Police are called frequently for fights, the latest of which occurred just two hours before Mrs. Valentine was murdered.
In that incident, one man was arrested after he and another fought over a woman in the parking lot of Rumblefish. Police said the fight was not related to Mrs. Valentine's murder.
In August 1992, the county liquor board suspended the license at A. L. Gators for 10 days and levied a $3,000 fine after it found RTC that bartenders served minors. The fine and suspension are being appealed in Circuit Court.
Mrs. Valentine still helped to run the two establishments, but she transferred most of her shares in the businesses, in December 1990, to her husband and her mother, Margaret June Shuey, according to liquor board records.
Relatives said that Mr. Valentine and his two sons, Vincent Jr., 15, and Nicholas, 13, were in seclusion yesterday. Police said they had not been able to interview Mr. Valentine extensively and do not have descriptions of the suspects.
"He hasn't been in a state of mind to be able to talk to us," Sergeant Jaschik said.
Bill Shuey, Mrs. Valentine's father, said that the family was in "terrible" shape, trying to cope with her murder.
"She was a wonderful person," said Mr. Shuey, of Greenlawn Beach. "Some maggot had to shoot her."