Guilford couple slain

August 15, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer Staff writers Anne Haddad and Shanon D. Murray contributed to this article.

A retired Johns Hopkins Hospital surgeon and his wife were found slain in their Guilford mansion by police yesterday shortly after their daughter discovered that the back door of the home had been forced open.

The victims were identified by Baltimore police as Walter E. Loch, 88, and his 81-year-old wife, Mary H. Loch.

Officer Robert Weinhold, a city police spokesman, said the couple's bodies were found about 1 p.m. yesterday after an apparent break-in was reported by a family member.

He was unable to say how long the couple had been dead and refused to comment on how they were killed or where in the house the bodies were found.

"We are not releasing that to protect the integrity of the investigation," he said.

"The exact type of weapon used is unknown at this point," he said.

Officer Weinhold said he did not know if anything was missing from the house in the 200 block of Stratford Road, directly across the street from the wealthy neighborhood's centerpiece, Sherwood Gardens.

Officer Weinhold said a daughter of the couple reported a burglary to the police when she visited the home yesterday and found signs of forced entry at the rear of the house.

The woman -- who was not identified -- told police that she was worried that she had not heard from her parents "for an unusual amount of time," Officer Weinhold said.

The neighborhood and the adjoining Oakenshawe community had been considered relatively crime-free until two people were slain in unrelated incidents in late spring.

William H. McClain, 77, a retired Johns Hopkins University professor of German language, was attacked and robbed May 14 outside his home in Oakenshawe. He hit his head in a fall during the robbery and died two days later.

Second death in area

Two weeks later, Baltimore lawyer Marvin B. Cooper, 45, who was returning from a chess tournament, was fatally shot by a robber in Guilford, across the street from his Oakenshawe home.

Officer Weinhold said residents should be cautious.

"Anyone who may have seen someone suspicious or anything unusual around the 200 block of Stratford within the past several days should call [homicide detectives] at 396-2100," he said.

"I would urge residents to keep exterior lights on in the evening, to make sure their doors and windows are secured at night, and if they see anything suspicious, to call 911 and have the police come out," he said.

Last night, some shocked neighbors were refusing to open their doors. Others were willing to discuss their grief over the couple's deaths and their concerns about safety.

'Lovely, elderly couple'

"The Lochs were a lovely, elderly couple," said Timothy D. C. Chriss, president of the Guilford Association of neighborhood homeowners.

He said that two years ago, after several car thefts and burglaries, the association urged residents to install home security alarms and keep bushes and trees trimmed.

"I don't believe the Lochs had a security alarm," Mr. Chriss said.

Private neighborhood patrol

Guilford residents pay $10 a month for a private, unarmed security force hired in September 1992, he said. Guards patrol the community hourly all day and night, he said.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke contacted the Police Department last night about safety in the two neighborhoods, said spokesman Alonza Williams.

"I have been assured the police are aggressively investigating this matter," said Mr. Williams, reading the mayor's statement. "It is my belief that outrageous and heinous crimes such as this deserve the toughest punishment that society can give out. I express my condolences to the family and assure them the police will do all they can to bring the perpetrator to justice."

Dr. Loch came to Baltimore from Austria in the 1950s, said Ron Sauder, a spokesman for the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Ear, nose surgeon

"His specialty at that time was ear surgery, and apparently he later developed a specialty in nasal surgery," Mr. Sauder said. "Dr. Loch was a founding member of the American Rhinological Society, and was president of the organization."

Dr. Loch also was known as a good teacher while he was a professor of otolaryngology, Mr. Sauder said, adding that he did not have records available yesterday to determine what year Dr. Loch retired.

"He was described to me by someone who knew him as a 'wise and kind person' " Mr. Sauder said.

Police said Mrs. Loch -- the former Mary Hyde Robbins -- had been a physician, but Mr. Sauder said he had no information about her career last night.

Crime scene

At the couple's home, yellow tape marking the crime scene surrounded the beige stucco and red brick, four-story home, which is surrounded by trees and bushes.

A newspaper -- seemingly untouched in its yellow plastic bag -- lay on the front steps of the stately entrance-way.

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