Slaying suspect leads police to second body Convicted molester to face new charge

investigation widens

March 02, 1996|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

A convicted child molester, already charged in the strangulation death of an 8-year-old East Baltimore boy last weekend, led homicide detectives yesterday to the body of a second slain youth in a boarded-up school.

Police said they're investigating the possibility that there are other victims.

The youth was identified by police and his family last night as Obdul Richards, 16, the oldest of Allen and Bridgett Richards' six

children. He

was reported missing on Jan. 25, said Homicide Detective Homer Pennington.

"He was a good kid, a nice kid," his mother, Bridgett Richards, said last night during an interview in the family's two-story rowhouse in the 1100 block of East Lanvale Street. "He kissed me goodbye every morning on his way to school."

Detectives learned of the second killing in what police described as "personal papers" written by Shawn E. Brown, who was charged Sunday with the murder of City Springs Elementary School third-grader Marvin Douglas Wise Jr.

Police said Mr. Brown will also be charged with the murder of Obdul Richards.

Police said the papers were not a comprehensive diary of victims but nonetheless gave cause for concern.

"We have not ruled out the possibility that there may be other victims," said Agent Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a police spokesman.

"But we have nothing to substantiate that right now."

Mr. Brown, 27, agreed to be interviewed yesterday without a lawyer present, said Agent Weinhold. Shortly after noon, he led officers to the red-brick school at the corner of Eager and Valley Streets.

There, in an old second-floor classroom, they found the body of Obdul Richards. The body was partially decomposed and had been there at least a week, police said.

No definite conclusions

Police cautioned that no definite conclusions can be drawn before an autopsy scheduled for today. Agent Weinhold would not say whether the department had identified any witnesses.

"Mr. Richards was reported missing by his family on the 25th of January," Agent Weinhold said. "He apparently left for school in the morning and he wasn't seen or heard from since."

Mr. Brown served nine years in a New York state prison for attempted murder and child molestation before his release in June.

It is not clear how long he had been living with relatives in the Flag House Courts public housing high-rise on South Exeter Street, where Marvin Wise also lived.

The two slayings bore similarities. Marvin Wise was strangled, and Obdul Richards had marks around his neck "consistent with a strangulation," Agent Weinhold said.

Also, both bodies had been abandoned in boarded-up areas. Marvin's body was discovered by a Wells Fargo security guard )) at 2 a.m. Sunday in a vacant, debris-strewn 12th-floor apartment in the Flag House Courts high-rises.

There was no word on whether Marvin or Obdul Richards had been sexually abused.

Marvin had been on his way to visit a girl in the 10th-floor apartment where the suspect had been staying, and his mother had not reported him missing.

His death has prompted criticism of security in the public housing project.

Mr. Brown had become a friend to children in the apartments since he began spending time with relatives there, residents said.

Obdul Richards' mother said she was not initially worried on when her son did not come home after school at his usual time, 4 p.m., on Thursday, Jan. 25. She assumed he had gone to visit his grandmother or one of his aunts.

'At peace now'

On Saturday, Jan. 27, she decided to call the police. Over the past five weeks, they had visited often, but had offered no hard leads on where her son might be. Yesterday afternoon, police arrived to escort her to downtown headquarters, where she was shown pictures of her son's body. She knew it was him, she said, by the light blue pants he'd been wearing when he kissed her goodbye.

Obdul Richards, his two brothers and three sisters were born in Anchorage, Alaska, where his mother worked in day care and his father worked on a boat. The family moved to Baltimore two years ago because they had family in the area and "wanted a change," Mrs. Richards said.

Mrs. Richards said her son talked of "building things" for a living, and was responsible enough to watch his youngest sibling, 5-year-old Tawanda. But he had been missing school and had been transferred to the Harbor City Learning Center on W. Saratoga Street, where he was in the 10th grade, she said.

Obdul preferred the company of teen-agers to that of adults, and his mother said it would have been unusual for him to talk with an unknown adult or be in the vicinity of Valley and Eager streets, about 12 blocks from his home.

"I'm at peace now because he's gone on to a better life," his mother said.

Over on Valley and Eager streets, neighbors whose homes overlook the school said they were frightened by the killings.

The neighbors said they had not observed anything unusual in the old school in recent weeks.

"It's just very, very scary," said Sheila Copeland, a janitor who has lived in the neighborhood for all of her 47 years.

"You don't have to tell me that," added Nellie Horrey, 73, as she stood at the corner and pointed at a young girl down the sidewalk. "That's my granddaughter standing right there."

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