Boy's decomposed body discovered in townhouse

October 06, 1994|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Sun Staff Writer

The decomposed body of an 8-year-old boy was discovered yesterday morning in a Woodlawn townhouse vacated last month by his family, Baltimore County police said.

The grisly discovery by a maintenance worker was made a few doors away from a home where a woman was shot to death Saturday night. But investigators saw no link between the boy's death and the slaying of the woman who had called police to report an intruder.

Police were searching for members of the boy's family, who moved out of the Heatherton Court home near the Diamond Ridge Golf Course sometime in early September, said Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a county police spokesman.

The family did not leave a forwarding address, but neighbors said they were seen Tuesday picking up belongings. Police would not release the identities of the boy or family members yesterday.

"Based on what the first officers on the scene said, the body has been dead for some time," Sergeant Doarnberger said. "According to the lease, there were four people in that house -- a mother, father, son and daughter. We also found a wheelchair in the room with the body. So we believe the body found was the son, who neighbors say had multiple sclerosis.

"The woman who lived at the house also told neighbors that her son died sometime at the end of August. But was she referring to the boy upstairs? We don't know. There is no sign of foul play yet."

The body was taken to the medical examiner's office, but the cause of death was not immediately determined.

Police were called to the home around 10:30 a.m. when a maintenance worker discovered the body during a routine inspection of the apartment. But investigators waited for 1/8 1/8 TC search warrant and did not begin to examine the scene until 2:30 p.m.

"There was still a reasonable expectation of privacy that we were worried about," Sergeant Doarnberger said.

"We just wanted to make sure we weren't intruding."

Neighbors were shocked at the news of a second body being found on Heatherton Court since Saturday.

The first was that of Raycol Lavette Harris, a hairdresser who died of gunshot wounds Saturday night, shortly after calling 911 to report that an intruder was breaking into her home. Police believe that Ms. Harris was targeted in the attack.

"At this point, we see no relation between the two incidents," Sergeant Doarnberger said.

Management officials at the Stratton Meadows rental office declined to comment, but many residents described the neighborhood as having been "relatively quiet" in the past.

Some said they had heard of several drug raids and burglaries in the community, but police were unable to confirm those accounts.

Although many residents remembered seeing the young boy in his wheelchair, most said they did not know his family.

Despite assurances from police that the deaths were isolated incidents, three residents showed up at the rental office to ask management to release them from their leases.

Grace Austin, a 34-year-old hospital aide, moved into her townhouse in July. It lies between Ms. Harris' residence and the home in which the boy was found.

"I thought this was a nice quiet neighborhood when I moved in here," Ms. Austin said. "I want to move and I want to move today."

Shelby Brown, 39, a law student and four-year resident of the community, agreed.

"After Saturday, it was a choice between buying a gun or moving out," he said. "But this is twice in one week and it's getting ridiculous. Whether it was the parents who left the child there or someone dumping the child there, it just makes you wonder who you're living next to."

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