Couple apparently killed during burglary

August 17, 1994|By Peter Hermann and Howard Libit | Peter Hermann and Howard Libit,Sun Staff Writers

The elderly couple found beaten to death in the upstairs master bedroom of their Guilford mansion apparently were killed during a burglary, police said yesterday.

While declining to release details on their extensive investigation, authorities said they still do not know if anything is missing from the three-story stucco and brick house in the 200 block of Stratford Road.

Relatives of the slain couple, Walter E. and Mary H. Loch, were expected to be allowed into the house for the first time last night, said Officer Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a police spokesman.

Yesterday, a squad of homicide detectives and other investigators continued to comb through the house, a tedious task that has continued nonstop for at least 53 hours.

Police said they were retracing their steps to ensure no evidence is missed.

Yellow police tape still surrounded the house as a handful of people stopped to watch and others slowed in their cars for a glance at the crime scene.

Officer Weinhold said detectives believe robbery was the motive because the victims' daughter, Helen Barber, found a rear door forced open Sunday, shortly before police discovered the bodies of the two retired doctors. Police said the house was not ransacked.

Police also said yesterday that they believe the Lochs were killed between Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Officer Weinhold said homicide detectives have talked "to various people who had seen them Saturday afternoon." He declined to elaborate.

Dr. Loch, 88, a retired Johns Hopkins physician and a pioneer in the field of ear and nose surgery, and his wife, 81, who had long ago stopped practicing medicine, were beaten to death with a blunt object, police said. Funeral arrangements were still pending last night.

The Johns Hopkins University is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer or killers. Anyone with information is urged to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 276-8888.

The double slaying has left Guilford residents wary. Many people interviewed yesterday were afraid to give their names.

The Guilford Association has planned a community meeting for tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Second Presbyterian Church on St. Paul Street.

Timothy D. A. Chriss, president of the group, said the association will present additional security ideas to residents.

"Right now, we are trying to bring the community together and just calm everybody down," said Stuart M. Brooks, who is in charge of the neighborhood's private security patrol. "When somebody is murdered in their bed, it is time to say enough is enough."

Police also are aware of community concerns. "I think the community needs this one cleared as quickly as possible with an arrest to give the residents some sense of safety and stability that a neighborhood like Guilford should enjoy," said Maj. Michael Bass, commander of the Northern District.

The Lochs are the most recent victims of a spate of major crime in the North Baltimore area around Guilford, a community of 700 homes with an average value of more than $250,000. Family income in the area tops $92,000, three times the city's average.

On May 28, Marvin B. Cooper, 45, was fatally shot in an apparent robbery while walking in the 200 block of Chancery Road in Guilford, just a block from his Oakenshawe home. The lawyer was returning from a chess club meeting.

Just two weeks earlier, William H. McClain, 77, was assaulted and robbed outside his front door on Oakenshawe Place. The retired Johns Hopkins professor of German hit his head in a fall during the robbery and died two days later. Police have made an arrest in the case.

Guilford was one of the targets last fall of violent robbers who appeared to be preying on older, affluent residents -- although police said they have not found a link to the Loch slayings. Major Bass said the three slayings in Guilford this year make the neighborhood the deadliest in his district. More homicides have occurred there than in any other community that he oversees.

Police have noticeably increased their patrols in Guilford and surrounding communities, with squad cars crawling up and down seemingly every block. They also are encouraging residents to call about anything that seems out of the ordinary.

Even a call about a man pushing a shopping cart behind houses in nearby Oakenshawe drew several officers to the area yesterday.

"I've called before, but they never seemed concerned," said Jill McLeod, who phoned in the report. "This time, one officer came to my door, said he had been checking the alleys for 10 or 15 minutes but couldn't find the guy, and he took a report and description."

The 29-year-old Johns Hopkins nursing student, who moved to Baltimore with her husband about a year ago, said she feels "dumb" calling police when she sees people who seem out of place in the neighborhood.

"I don't like doing that, but on the other hand, we're all very concerned about security here," she said.

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