Released from jail to help police, suspect vanishes

October 12, 1994|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Sun Staff Writer

A kidnapping suspect who was released from jail last month to help Anne Arundel County police investigate the murder of a Pasadena nightclub owner has disappeared, according to court records and law enforcement sources.

Circuit Judge Martin A. Wolff issued an arrest warrant Sept. 16 for Clarence D. Pittman, 49, after he failed to return to county police homicide investigators, court records say.

Capt. Michael Fitzgibbons, head of the county police Criminal Investigations Division that includes the homicide unit, would not comment.

Frank Weathersbee, county state's attorney, whose office authorized Mr. Pittman's release, declined to comment.

Court documents show that Mr. Pittman agreed to cooperate with county police by providing information on an investigation. He was first released to detectives Aug. 24 and returned to the Detention Center a short time later. He was released again to the detectives Sept. 6 and disappeared.

Sources said Mr. Pittman told police he had information on the Sept. 26, 1993, shooting death of Joanne Valentine, 47. Although police arrested Edward McLeod of the 1800 block of Division St., Baltimore, in that case, prosecutors dropped the charges, citing a lack of evidence.

Mr. Pittman, according to the law enforcement sources, told police he was standing outside a crack house in Baltimore a short time after Mrs. Valentine was shot when a car with four men arrived. He said he heard the men arguing about a killing and botched robbery. He saw one of the men take a handgun out of his waist band and put it in the trunk of the car, the sources said.

The sources said detectives checked Mr. Pittman into a hotel in Baltimore Sept. 6. They put a recording device on him and sent him back to the crack house hoping to find witnesses who had overheard the same conversation that he did.

One source involved in the investigation said Mr. Pittman found witnesses and got them to repeat what they had heard, but the recording device malfunctioned and investigators monitoring the conversations could not hear or tape them. It was after they fixed it and sent Mr. Pittman back that he did not return, the source said.

Mrs. Valentine, who with her husband, Vincent Valentine, owned Pasadena nightclubs A. L. Gators and Rumblefish, was shot to death in her driveway about 4 a.m. after she returned home from closing the establishments.

Four men followed her, and she was heard arguing with one of them before she was shot. Her assailants did not take the more than $3,000 in cash that was on the front seat of the car or her jewelry.

Police arrested Mr. McLeod Oct. 1, 1993, on shoplifting charges and found the gun, a .38-caliber Taurus, in the trunk of his car. He was charged with first-degree murder in the Valentine case Nov. 10, 1993.

The murder charges were dropped, but he is to be tried Oct. 18 on charges of stealing the weapon from the On Target gun store in Odenton.

Mr. Pittman had been charged with carjacking, kidnapping and robbing an elderly couple at knifepoint on Nov. 27, 1993, court records show.

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