Grandson said to admit killings

August 19, 1994|By Peter Hermann and Howard Libit | Peter Hermann and Howard Libit,Sun Staff Writers Sun staff writer Melody Simmons contributed to this article.

The grandson of an elderly Guilford couple, arrested early yesterday by city police and charged in their slayings, confessed to bludgeoning them to death because of a dispute over money, according to court records and a source close to the investigation.

Walter E. Loch, 88, a retired Johns Hopkins physician, and his wife, Mary, 81, also a retired doctor, were beaten to death with a baseball bat as they slept in their bed, police said yesterday.

"They were brutally beaten," said Sam Ringgold, a police spokesman. "I think rage is the word one detective used to describe the scene."

The killings, among the most shocking in a recent spate of violence in wealthy North Baltimore neighborhoods, had heightened fear among many residents since the bodies were found last weekend.

Michael Edward Joseph Reiriz, 30, of Perry Hall was charged early yesterday with two counts of first-degree murder and use of a deadly weapon. A court commissioner ordered him held without bail pending a District Court bail hearing today.

Investigators believe that Mr. Reiriz was upset because his grandparents stopped lending him money. The grandson borrowed at least $1,000 and reneged on a promise to spend it on college, the source said.

The Loch family remained in seclusion yesterday, gathered at the slain couple's house in the 200 block of Stratford Road. They declined interview requests.

"The Loch family has been informed that 'Ted' has accepted responsibility for the loss of our parents," according to a statement prepared by the family and read by their lawyer, Robert J. Mathias, last evening. "Ted" is Mr. Reiriz's family

nickname. "The family is shocked and saddened by this turn of events."

Police found the bodies Sunday about 1:10 p.m. after the couple's daughter, Helen Barber, whose previous married name was Reiriz, discovered a rear kitchen door forced open at the three-story stucco and brick house.

Police first suspected burglarly because the screen on the door had been cut, a glass pane above the lock had been shattered and several rooms were ransacked.

But detectives soon suspected that the break-in was staged because nothing appeared to be missing. Police said yesterday a key was used to open the back door.

After the bodies were discovered, a squad of homicide detectives descended on the couple's house and spent 53 hours from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday evening searching for clues.

The slayings followed several other violent crimes in the area. A 45-year-old lawyer was shot and fatally wounded in Guilford -- about a block from his home in neighboring Oakenshawe -- and a Johns Hopkins professor died as a result of injuries in a street robbery outside his Oakenshawe home.

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

Mr. Reiriz, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment at the Dunfield apartment complex in the first block of Pinewall Place was

charged in the deaths about 2 a.m. yesterday, eight hours after he arrived from Jamaica at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Police said he flew to Jamaica with his Oxon Hill girlfriend on Sunday and returned Wednesday about 6 p.m. after his mother, at detectives' request, called to ask him to return home.

Two homicide detectives accompanied his mother, Ms. Barber, to the airport, and police said Mr. Reiriz voluntarily went to police headquarters to be interviewed.

"The defendant then confessed to the murder of the Lochs," the court papers say.

"The defendant admitted to investigators in a taped statement to beating to death both Walter and Mary Loch with a baseball bat while the victims slept in their bed."

Yesterday morning, police said, Mr. Reiriz provided information that led them to a wooden bat, hidden in tall grass behind the house, that they believe was used in the killings.

Mr. Reiriz appeared at his bail hearing yesterday afternoon wearing black denim shorts, an off-white T-shirt, and black and purple Nikes.

He often bowed his head and let his shoulder-length, unkempt hair cover his eyes. A throng of media packed the tiny second-floor office in the Central District police station.

Police said they first suspected Mr. Reiriz on Tuesday when they discovered financial discrepancies in records kept by the Lochs and learned that a relative, who family members said had been close to the slain couple, was missing.

Mr. Ringgold said investigators were still trying to determine how much money the grandson apparently borrowed from the couple. "We are not at liberty to go into a great deal of detail," he said. "There were some financial discrepancies as they looked into the couple's finances. Some money was missing. Whether he borrowed it under false pretenses or whether the money was taken is still a part of the investigation."

The police source said that they did not know what Mr. Reiriz spent the money on, but that the grandparents did not approve of the expenditures, because they wanted the money to be used for college.

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