Community startled by slaying Friends recall woman's warmth, love of theater

October 03, 1994|By Marcia Myers and Consella A. Lee | Marcia Myers and Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writers

Friends of 19-year-old Debra Ann Goodwich yesterday recalled a warm and affectionate young woman who experienced a fitful start into adulthood after graduating from high school two years ago, but who had begun to chart a steadier course.

Services were to be held this morning for Ms. Goodwich, who died of gunshot wounds Friday. Police believe she surprised a burglar at her parents' home in the affluent Stevenson neighborhood of Baltimore County.

"We're not even 20 and forever is over," said Bonnie Miranda, a longtime friend who met Ms. Goodwich when both were sixth-graders at Garrison Forest girls school.

Police yesterday said they had no suspects.

She was last seen by her roommate when she left her apartment in the 800 block of Park Ave. in Baltimore City about 9 a.m. Friday, police said. Police believe that Ms. Goodwich may have stopped at her parents' home to check for mail while her parents were at work.

Ms. Goodwich missed a scheduled 1:15 p.m. luncheon date with her grandmother. Her mother, Arlene Goodwich, discovered her daughter's body in the living room shortly after 4 p.m.

Police would not say how many times Ms. Goodwich had been shot or identify the type of gun used.

"The living room was most likely the first room she walked into," said Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a county police spokesman. Police believe she died immediately.

Neighbors apparently heard nothing.

"It's a very isolated location, and we wouldn't expect them to hear anything back there," said Sergeant Doarnberger.

Friends say that after graduation from Pikesville High School in 1992, Ms. Goodwich enrolled in a couple of colleges, then dropped out, unsure of what to do with her future.

Only three weeks ago, she had moved from her parents' home to an apartment near Mount Vernon Square. With her freshly signed apartment lease, and a string of courses at Catonsville Community College filling her days, Ms. Goodwich was in a celebratory mood late last week. The best news came the last day of her life, when a Fells Point theater group hired her to help in the production of a new play. Theater was a passion, friends say.

On Thursday, she had met with John Johnson, president of The Vagabond Players in Fells Point. She had been involved in drama at Essex Community College and the University of Maryland campus in Baltimore County and she wanted to get involved again, she told him. He hired her that day.

"It was serendipitous," Mr. Johnson said. "It was a wonderful thing for us. She was so bubbly, so effervescent and so wonderfully anxious to get back in the theater. And we needed somebody. I thought 'What a break for us.' "

He was amazed when she didn't show up for work Friday night. The next day, he learned what had happened.

Friends say that in the three weeks since moving away from home, Ms. Goodwich's car had twice been broken into while parked downtown. Both times thieves smashed a window of her car, taking everything inside -- even her college textbooks.

"There's nothing left to steal," a friend quoted her as saying after the second incident.

Police said that the call Friday was the third they had received from the Goodwich home. In July 1992, someone broke into the house by smashing a bedroom window with a concrete block. Police could not immediately release the value of items taken in that incident but said the case was never solved. In January of last year, police also were called to the home after Mrs. Goodwich reported a suspicious salesperson at the door. Police could not locate him.

Police would not say what was taken from the home on Friday.

The Stevenson neighborhood is widely regarded as a safe, upper-class community. But its close proximity to the Baltimore Beltway and its secluded homes on large lots make it vulnerable to crime.

Residents say they love the quiet, but some said yesterday that they may hire a private security firm for added protection.

Services for Ms. Goodwich were set for 10 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Brothers Inc., 6010 Reisterstown Road. After the service, the family will receive friends and observe shiva at the home of Allen S. and Ruth Brown in Owings Mills.

She is survived by her parents, Walter and Arlene Goodwich; a brother, David, at home; and her two grandmothers, Emma Surdin and Stelle Goodwich.

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