Volunteers learn to look for crime clues

Neighbors

June 10, 1996|By Lois Szymanski | Lois Szymanski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THIS IS THE SCENARIO: A 7-year-old child is kidnapped and dragged through the woods. She is found alive. Now the scene of the crime must be searched. Who is called?

In Carroll County, the call would go to the Central Maryland Crime Scene Search Team, a dedicated group of volunteers trained in the art of search and recovery.

A training session for volunteers took place at the 15-acre Westminster home of Dave and Terry Coppersmith this month.

Using the "kidnapped-child scenario," rescuers searched the site, recovering planted items and some that were not.

One method of combing fields for evidence calls for searchers to work in a line on their hands and knees. They pull weeds and plants through their legs as they search.

Denise Kanyer of the Ferndale Fire Department found something that had not been planted: a snake.

"That snake had to be at least 4 or 4 1/2 feet long," said Bill Waters of Frederick, recalling that Kanyer thought she was pulling a stick.

"I still don't feel nothing," Kanyer said afterward, her hands shaking. "My nerves are shot. I just stood there."

After the snake slithered away, Kanyer found the planted bullet.

"I think he was guarding it," she said.

Talking about the search team's methods, 1st Sgt. Suzanne Jordon said, "It's the trace evidence you wouldn't see just walking through. You have to get on your hands and knees. It's grueling work. They need this kind of training."

When evidence is found, a searcher notifies a trooper who recovers it and flags where it was found. A recorder lists what is recovered and marks the site on a map.

"Our volunteers are primarily from Carroll and Frederick counties, and from all walks of life," said Sgt. Rick Stotelmyer of the state police barracks in Frederick.

"These people spend hours on their hands and knees searching for something as small as a button or a thread or as big as a gun, a knife, or a footprint," he said.

Westminster resident Terry Coppersmith has taken part in about a dozen searches.

"I saw an ad in the paper [about the search team] five or six years ago and decided I might want to do it," she said.

Stotelmyer said at least half of the 36 members of the Central Maryland Crime Scene Search Team are from Carroll County.

"I think they did really well today," Stotelmyer said.

For information on how to join the Central Maryland Crime Scene Search Team, call Stotelmyer at (301) 663-3101.

St. John's honors bishop

On May 26, the Rev. Arthur F. Valenzano of St. John's Roman Catholic Church was elevated to monsignor at a ceremony held at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore.

rTC The church had a celebration June 1, and everyone in the parish was invited. About 800 people turned out for a Mass of celebration with the Bishop P. Francis Murphy, bishop of the Baltimore archdiocese, and vicar of the archdiocese's western region. After the Mass, a surprise reception was held.

"Father Art thought about 80 people would attend," said secretary Marian Carr. "He didn't know we had sent out letters of invitation to everyone."

Many local merchants contributed food and drink. The presentation included several speakers.

The Rev. John DoBranski and the Rev. Isaac Karoor, associate pastors at the church, performed a skit with the help of Paul Gallagher and Carr.

Then Murphy was presented with a check for $1 million.

"Of course, everyone knew it was a joke," Carr said. "But Father Isaac did present him with a real check for $8,000." The money was from parishioners and others.

Pub Date: 6/10/96

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