Rape suspect ordered held without bond His in-laws suspicious when he arrived with dirty clothes, jewelry

'We never liked him'

Relative called police

janitor charged with raping teen-ager

March 27, 1996|By Caitlin Francke and Ed Heard | Caitlin Francke and Ed Heard,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Norris P. West contributed to this article.

With two felony convictions and almost a decade of jail in Timothy Chase's past, his in-laws were wary of him. So they didn't balk at reporting to police their fears that the 28-year-old may have raped a teen-ager in Columbia last Wednesday night.

Family members said yesterday that they were suspicious when Mr. Chase, of Harper's Choice village, suddenly turned up with dirty clothes and some pieces of gold jewelry last Wednesday. Then, relatives said, they noticed that he looked like the suspected rapist represented in an artist's sketch released by police later in the week.

Mr. Chase, who lived with his wife in the same townhouse community and worked nearby as a janitor at the Howard County General Hospital, was ordered held without bond yesterday after a hearing in Howard County District Court.

"We never liked him," Agnes Wilson, the grandmother of Mr. Chase's wife, Vanessa, said yesterday at her townhouse in the Waverly Winds development. "I hope he gets life."

Mr. Chase was charged late Monday night with first-degree rape, a first-degree sex offense, robbery, theft, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of false imprisonment and three counts of assault. The charges could bring him a life sentence.

The alleged rape was reported by a 15-year-old girl and her 7-year-old-sister who said they were abducted by a man while they were waiting for their mother to pick them up outside the county central library in downtown Columbia -- shortly after the library had closed for the evening.

The incident tapped into rising fears of crime in largely quiet Columbia, stirring talk among parents and children about the need for greater safety precautions.

Mr. Chase's arrest Monday followed a call to police from a cousin of Mr. Chase's wife -- a call reporting the family's suspicions about him, according to court records.

Covered with mud

Mrs. Wilson said her granddaughter told her that Mr. Chase had come home covered with mud last Wednesday night, saying he had been wrestling with "some boys."

The night of the alleged rape, Mr. Chase also came home with two gold rings and an earring, according to court documents, jewelry that police have linked to the 15-year-old girl who told police she was raped.

Mr. Chase told his wife that he had taken the jewelry from "a woman who was waiting for her mother and told the woman to run," a police statement said.

Ms. Wilson said that, after Vanessa's cousin called police in response to the artist's sketch of Mr. Chase, she gave police a picture of Mr. Chase that officers then showed to the girls who reported the rape.

Appearing at his bail review hearing yesterday via a video camera link, Mr. Chase at times had a worried expression on his face as he responded to District Judge James Vaughn's questions.

In asking the judge to not set bond for Mr. Chase, prosecutors cited their fears he may retaliate against the two girls involved in the incident.

"When it's a crime that's this violent, and when the crime is committed against children, who really can't protect themselves. Our children need to be protected," Assistant State's Attorney Janine Rice said.

Prior convictions

Mr. Chase has two convictions in Prince George's County, according to court system records, for armed robbery and for selling cocaine.

From December 1984 to May 1994, he spent all but six months in jail, said Leonard A. Sipes Jr. a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

He last was paroled in May 1994 to serve three years on probation. Last Wednesday, the morning of the alleged rape, Mr. Chase appeared at an appointment with his parole officer.

At Howard County General Hospital, officials yesterday refused to discuss Mr. Chase, citing the confidentiality of their personnel records.

They would not say whether they knew about his two prior convictions when he was hired.

An internal investigation is under way at the hospital regarding his employment, said Dorothy Brillantes, a hospital vice president.

A hospital co-worker, who asked not to be identified, described Mr. Chase yesterday as a hard worker eager to seek the approval of superiors.

"He was always talking: 'I'm working real hard. Everybody loves me,' " the co-worker said. "A lot of people liked him."

In the nearby Waverly Winds development, Mr. Chase's arrest sparked both concern and surprise from neighbors who say he appeared to take good care of his two stepchildren, a 10-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy.

"He was the type of guy that you wouldn't think would do something like that," said a male neighbor, who asked not to be identified.

'Everyone knows everyone'

But a woman said Mr. Chase always struck her as odd.

"He was polite, but he could get nasty very quick," said the woman who would identify herself only as Kim. "Around here everyone knows everyone, so you don't have to go outside with your children. That was the disturbing part -- it was two or three doors down from me."

A Prince George's County judge sentenced him to 12 years in prison for armed robbery in 1984, but suspended all but five years. He was ordered to be on probation for five years after his release.

Mr. Chase then spent four years in jail before he was released -- a mandatory release, Mr. Sipes said, because he had accumulated credits for good behavior.

Six months after his release in September 1988 -- while still on probation -- he was convicted of selling cocaine to an undercover agent, Mr. Sipes said.

Since his conviction violated the terms of both his mandatory release and probation, Mr. Chase was sentenced to 16 years in prison and given an additional three years of probation.

He was paroled again May 8, 1994. Mr. Sipes said, after serving about five years.

Pub Date: 3/27/96

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