Firefighter's widow accused of arranging to have him killed during burglary

February 08, 1994|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Sun Staff Writer

Police arrested the wife of a Baltimore fire lieutenant yesterday and charged her with arranging to have him killed during a staged burglary of their home Dec. 10, 1992.

Elizabeth Dianna Prior, 32, of the 6800 block of Liberty Road in Randallstown arranged the slaying because her husband was about to file for divorce, Baltimore County police said in District Court charging documents.

Mrs. Prior has been charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Lt. Wayne Maurice Prior, 28. The person believed to have carried out the slaying has not been identified or arrested.

Lieutenant Prior was shot several times in the head as he slept in his bedroom. His wife and stepdaughter were in a nearby bedroom at the time, police said.

Police said Elizabeth Prior called them the night of the murder to report a burglary, then reported gunshots. Police said they arrived to find Lieutenant Prior dead, the house ransacked and a back patio door unlocked. "This burglary was staged," Detective Dean E. Brubaker wrote in the charging documents, "the point of entry unlocked, the dog placed in a location to present no hazard to the perpetrators . . . and property packaged, stacked and not taken."

Interviews conducted with Mrs. Prior "found her to be uncooperative, deceptive and having extramarital affairs," the detective wrote.

Police said Mrs. Prior initially told them that she and her daughter had been in the daughter's bedroom trying on clothes about 11 p.m. when they heard someone moving around in their house, in the 8500 block of Allenswood Road. "They thought it was Wayne, so she didn't look to see who it was," the detective wrote. "They kept hearing the dog scratching at the basement door and didn't pay attention because he always does that." Police said they later learned that the dog was not usually locked in the basement, but always slept with the victim and would bark at any strange person who entered the house. It was also unusual for Lieutenant Prior to still be up at 11 p.m.

Police said they have found several witnesses who said that Mrs. Prior had many boyfriends who dealt drugs and were considered violent. And, Mrs. Prior allegedly bragged about killing her husband -- before and after his death, police said they were told. In November, a woman contacted officers to say she had been in the Prior home a few weeks before the killing and had seen the Priors arguing, police said.

Police said the woman told them that after Lieutenant Prior left the house, Mrs. Prior said, "If I wanted [him] killed, I could have him killed like that," and she then snapped her fingers.

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