Grandson is arrested in Guilford slayings

August 18, 1994|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Sun Staff Writer Staff writers JoAnna Daemmrich, Melody Simmons and Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

The man charged with beating his grandparents to death in their Guilford home was upset after the elderly couple stopped lending him money, a Baltimore police source said today.

The source said investigators believe the grandson borrowed money -- at least $1,000 -- and reneged on a promise to spend the money on college. Police said they do not know what he used the money for.

Michael Edward Joseph Reiriz, 30, of Perry Hall, was charged early today with two counts of first-degree murder and use of a deadly weapon. He was awaiting a hearing before a district court commissioner today.

The police source said Mr. Reiriz had lived with the slain couple, Walter E. Loch and his wife, Mary, in their three-story house in the 200 block of Stratford Road last year, but had moved out several months ago into a one-bedroom apartment at the Dunfield apartment complex in the first block of Pinewall Place.

The suspect was charged about 2 a.m. today, following eight hours of interviews with homicide detectives who met him at Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 6 p.m. Police said he flew into Baltimore from Jamaica, where he had been since Sunday, and voluntarily went with detectives to police headquarters.

Sam Ringgold, a police spokesman, said Mr. Reiriz's mother, Helen Barber, called her son yesterday in Jamaica, where he had gone with his Oxon Hill girlfriend, to inform him of his grandparent's deaths.

Mr. Ringgold said police asked her to call because they had labeled him a suspect. The spokesman said Ms. Barber also suspected that her son might be involved.

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 as they lay in their upstairs bed.

Police officers discovered the bodies about 1 p.m. Sunday, after Ms. Barber, concerned because she had not heard from her parents, went to the house and found that a back door had been forced open.

That led investigators to suspect burglary as the motive. But Mr. Ringgold said that theory changed on Tuesday, when they learned that nothing was missing from the house.

The spokesman said today that the suspect opened the back door with a key about 2 a.m. Sunday, and then apparently ripped the screen to make it appear that someone had broken into the house.

This morning, police again searched the Lochs' yard and found a baseball bat hidden in grass behind the house, said Officer Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a police spokesman. He said investigators believe the bat to be the murder weapon.

Police also were searching the suspect's Perry Hall apartment.

Family members at the Loch house declined to comment this morning. But a family lawyer released a statement reiterating their plea for privacy.

"The family has very limited knowledge regarding the latest developments in the police department investigation," according to the statement, read by Robert J. Mathias, of the downtown law firm of Piper and Marbury. "However, the family continues to support and thank the police department for their efforts to determine and prove who is responsible for causing this loss."

The slayings heightened concerns about security in Guilford, a community of 700 homes with an average value of more than $250,000. Family income there tops $92,000, three times the city average.

Two men were killed during robberies in the Guilford area this year. A45-year-old lawyer was shot and fatally wounded in Guilford -- about a block from his home in the adjacent Oakenshawe neighborhood -- and a Johns Hopkins professor died after a street robbery outside his Oakenshawe home.

Last fall, a group of robbers broke into Guilford home and stole valuables and raped a resident of the house.

Concerned about crime, the Guilford Association approached the city's Public Works Department four or five months ago, asking for certain streets to be barricaded to prevent non-residents from taking shortcuts through the otherwise quiet streets of the tree-lined community.

The plan, which is to be unveiled at a community meeting tonight, would close Southway and Bretton Place at their intersections with Greenmount Avenue. Farther north, where Greenmount becomes York Road, barriers would be installed across Northway and Underwood Road. They could be erected as early as next week.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who has taken an interest in the Loch murders, said at his weekly news conference this morning that leaders of many city neighborhoods were worried because of the double slaying.

"A lot of people had fears about this particular case," the mayor said. "I think that [the arrest] will help allay some of the fears and concerns of people not only in that community but also in others."

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