Educator's nephew sought in killings

August 07, 1994|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Robert Hilson Jr. contributed to this article.

The FBI has joined an interstate search for a North Carolina man charged in the bludgeoning deaths of a retired Maryland university administrator and his wife.

Authorities said yesterday they believe the suspect, Keith Bradley East, 33, of Pilot Mountain, N.C., is headed toward Atlanta or El Paso, Texas, two communities he is known to frequent.

Mr. East is charged in the deaths of his uncle and aunt, Dr. Harold Delaney, 74, and his wife, Geraldine, 71, said Chief Doug Lawson, who heads the police department in Pilot Mountain, N.C., where the couple was found dead on Thursday.

The Silver Spring couple may have been killed as early as Tuesday evening, authorities said yesterday, citing an autopsy report.

Police have not identified a murder weapon, but the autopsy found that the couple had been bludgeoned to death with a blunt instrument.

Neighbors of the Delaneys' Pilot Mountain vacation home also have told police that they heard screams and the slamming of one or more car doors Tuesday night.

The Delaneys frequently visited Pilot Mountain, a rural town of 1,183 people where Mrs. Delaney was born and had many relatives. Her mother is in a nearby nursing home. The town, with two shopping centers and a textile factory, is about 50 miles north of Winston-Salem along Highway 52.

A career educator, Dr. Delaney served as interim president at Frostburg State University and, during 1992-1993, shortly before his retirement, at Bowie State University. Both schools flew the American flag at half-staff yesterday in his honor.

He also headed two colleges in New York and Illinois and taught chemistry for 21 years at Morgan State University in Baltimore. He had served as an executive vice president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and a special assistant to the University of Maryland System's chancellor.

The Philadelphia native is remembered throughout higher education circles as a generous man who never sought personal recognition in his efforts to improve university education.

In the couple's Silver Spring neighborhood, people who had known them for 14 years were amazed to learn after his death of LTC Dr. Delaney's many accomplishments. He had simply told them he was a "college administrator."

Police found the bodies shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday at the brick ranch-style home after receiving a tip to check the house, Chief Lawson said. Robbery appears to have been the motive, police say. Police believe jewelry and other valuables may been stolen in addition to the couple's car, but have yet to confirm their disappearance.

Mr. East, who was unemployed, spent Thursday night in the couple's 1991 Buick Park Avenue in downtown Winston-Salem. After reading accounts of the crime in the Winston-Salem Journal Friday morning, witnesses reported seeing him and the car on a side street outside Miller Park.

Police describe Mr. East as black, 6-feet tall and 250 pounds. When last seen in Winston-Salem, he had a mustache and was wearing black shorts, a black sweat shirt and tennis shoes. His head was shaved.

Authorities said they consider Mr. East, who lived a block away from the Delaneys' vacation home, armed and dangerous.

Chief Lawson said that the town, which hasn't had a murder in 25 years, is stunned by the killings and that investigators are working on the case "24 hours a day." The last homicide was a double murder of two police officers.

"It's a hard one, but we're trying," Chief Lawson said.

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