13 homicides from '95 remain unsolved in Baltimore County 78% 'clearance rate' logged

police say they've done 'exceptionally well'

January 15, 1996|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

More than a month after two women were stabbed to death in their homes in different parts of Baltimore County, police are reporting no developments in either case -- only that they are continuing to examine the victims' backgrounds in search of fresh leads.

These two stabbings are among 13 slayings in the county that remain unsolved from last year -- more than a third of the 34 homicides reported.

"Our detectives dealt with some real tough cases last year," said Maj. Allan J. Webster, the county police commander for criminal investigation. "They worked real hard with cases like Loch Raven, Sheppard Pratt and the Essex woman murdered in her bedroom, which resulted in the arrest of her stepson and a host of his friends.

"When you've got cases like that, it takes a lot of time and drains a lot of resources. But I think the unit has done exceptionally well this year."

Officially, the department reports a "clearance rate" of 78 percent for homicide cases last year -- a statistic helped by the fact that detectives solved five cases from 1994. (Open cases from 1995 that are solved this year will figure in the statistics for 1996.)

The victims in the recent stabbings were Olga Gregorian Sexton, 38, a massage spa worker found dead behind the front door of her Garrison home Dec. 5, and Evelyn Jane Cunningham, 63, found dead five days later in her Overlea home after she did not show up for work at the Home Depot store in Towson.

Although Mrs. Sexton's wallet was found in Parkville, about two miles from the other victim's home, police say they have no reason to believe the two slayings are connected.

Police said they are searching for a man for questioning in the death of Mrs. Sexton. The man had been seen at the Russian Spa at York and Timonium roads, where Mrs. Sexton worked, police said. He was described as 28 to 33 years old, 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall, 220 to 240 pounds, with a medium to stocky build, with blond hair and no facial hair.

"Nothing has panned out yet," Detective Thomas Lau said. "We're still doing legwork."

Police asked that anyone with information call 887-2198.

One other homicide that occurred in December remains unsolved -- the shooting death of Ronald Allen Strong, 34, of Fort Washington in Prince George's County, who was found dead Dec. 9 in the first block of Towne Center Place, near Reisterstown and Old Court roads.

Despite the 13 unsolved cases, Major Webster said that the county's official clearance rate remained higher than the national average of 64 percent and cited the work of his detectives in solving several cases including:

* The shooting death of Debra Anne Goodwich, 19, in her parent's Green Spring Valley home Sept. 30, 1994. In April investigators received tips that led to the arrest of Wallace Dudley Ball, a handyman who had worked for the Goodwich family.

"That was a case that we kept on and on and on," Major Webster said. "All of the cases we have are important, but that was one case that had been open for a long time, and we were determined to solve. They did a remarkable job with that arrest."

* The suicide of Mark Alen Clark -- and simultaneous killing of his estranged wife and her three children -- by detonating a bomb in his station wagon Sept. 11 behind the Middlesex Shopping Center. County detectives, working in a national spotlight along with federal agents, quickly determined that the bombing resulted from a domestic dispute.

But the detectives also had low points.

Still unsolved is the June 15 slaying of two Cockeysville men at a popular fishing hole at Loch Raven Reservoir. Detectives believe Vernon A. Smith, 46, was bludgeoned to death when he stumbled upon the gunshot slaying of Vincent B. Young, 26 -- but no proof has been found.

Major Webster attributed some of the difficulties in those slayings and several others to a lack of evidence and witnesses.

"In some of the cases, we've got people who have information that could help us out but are reluctant to come forward," Major Webster said. "We're just hoping that after all this time, some of those people will have a change of heart and decide to speak up."

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