Girl found dead was strangled, autopsy shows

January 31, 1995|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Mike Farabaugh contributed to this article.

A teen-age girl found dead Sunday near the Back River sewage treatment plant was strangled, an autopsy performed yesterday showed.

The victim was identified yesterday as Courtney Danielle Letiro, 16, of the 1800 block of Grempler Way in Edgewood, who was reported missing Jan. 18, Baltimore County police said. Her family said she had run away from home.

"Jan. 22 was her birthday," said E. Jay Miller, a county police spokesman. "We don't know if she made it to her birthday. We believe she had been dead for more than a day or so, perhaps even several days. It was pretty cold so there wasn't much decomposition."

Detective Lillian Williams of the Harford County Sheriff's Department said Courtney "has been part of an active missing persons search," and that "the investigation is still open so we're not at liberty to discuss anything right now."

Police said there are no suspects, and it was not immediately clear how she was strangled.

The girl's fully clothed body was found about 11:30 a.m. by a neighborhood resident walking his dog near the woods, said Cpl. Kevin B. Novak, a Baltimore County police spokesman. The body was partially hidden under a large piece of tin.

Area residents told police that there had been a noisy party late Saturday in the wooded area along Diamond Point Road, which bends north and then west from the 8400 block of Eastern Ave.

"The gentleman who found her said he occasionally chases kids out of the woods," said Corporal Novak, who was unable to confirm the reports of the party or say whether there was any connection to the slaying.

Eckton William Letiro, 19, Courtney's brother, said this was the third time his sister had run away from home.

"The first time she disappeared, we knew she was still in the area," Mr. Letiro said. "She came home three or four days later. The second time she ran away, she was gone for a week until one of her friends turned her in and the police brought her home.

"She just wanted to go out with her friends. Her friends ran away so she always wanted to go with them. We didn't know where she was until last night."

Courtney, a 10th-grader at Edgewood High School, was described by a teacher yesterday as a "very nice and friendly girl."

"She seemed to be very well-liked," said Sherry Grant, a Spanish teacher at Edgewood. "She was out sick a lot, but when she was there, she did really well in class. I don't think the students have any idea what has happened yet. It's terrible."

Principal Robert C. Williams said a crisis intervention team will be at the school today to help students.

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