Tongue found at scene may tell story of slaying Man charged in case is missing part of his

September 25, 1995|By David Simon | David Simon,SUN STAFF

Police say a slip of the tongue snares many a suspect, but the murder case city investigators have against Saladin Ishmael Taylor -- charged with killing a woman this month -- involves a bit more than the cliche.

A state parolee, Mr. Taylor, 34, has been charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 5 death of Mona Johnson, 26, after the discovery of what detectives say may be part of Mr. Taylor's tongue at the crime scene.

Detectives said they found the quarter-sized piece of tongue -- which they suspect was bitten off during a struggle with the victim -- in a rowhouse in the 500 block of Laurens St. where police discovered Ms. Johnson's body Sept. 10.

On Sept. 6, the day after the slaying, state parole and probation officials said, Mr. Taylor showed up at the Mondawmin parole office for his regular meeting , complaining that he couldn't talk because he'd accidentally bitten off his tongue.

The agent cited the injury in his notes of the meeting, but Mr. Taylor, who has a history of sex offense and assault charges dating to the early 1980s, simultaneously had been identified by detectives as a tenant in the rowhouse where the body was found. He became the prime suspect when he met with investigators and acknowledged that he recently had bitten off his tongue.

However, police say that in his statement to detectives, Mr. Taylor contended that he injured himself outside his home and left the severed portion of his tongue on the street. He said he had no idea how it came to be found at the crime scene, police said.

Because of that and other inconsistencies, he was charged with the murder and is being held without bond in the Baltimore City Detention Center.

Mr. Taylor was released on supervised parole in August 1993 after serving more than two years of a five-year sentence for an assault on another patient at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center for the criminally insane, officials said.

He was sent to Perkins after a judge found him mentally incompetent to stand trial on charges that he had sexually attacked his sister-in-law while he was wearing lingerie.

Since leaving prison, he also has been the subject of a civil suit -- settled out of court -- stemming from a fender-bender and fistfight while picking up a girl he was dating at Woodlawn Senior High School.

In the murder case, police said Mr. Taylor was identified as being known to the victim, having been seen with her on the day she was last seen alive, and having access to the area of the Laurens Street rowhouse where her body was found.

She had been stabbed and sexually assaulted, police said. bTC Detectives said they could not be sure whether the suspect bit off his own tongue. Medical testing is under way to verify that the severed piece of tongue is Mr. Taylor's.

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