Man wanted in abductions dies in N.Y. Rosedale parolee reportedly shot by an acquaintance

He allegedly sought refuge

Charges include kidnapping, torture, assault of 2 women

September 17, 1996|By Jay Apperson and Robert A. Erlandson | Jay Apperson and Robert A. Erlandson,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Michael James, Lisa Respers and Elaine Tassy contributed to this article.

A Baltimore County man's flight from charges of torturing and sexually assaulting two shackled prostitutes ended late Sunday night in a small New York town, where he died of gunshot wounds, authorities said yesterday.

Richard Paul Elliott, a 57-year-old Rosedale parolee wanted since last week on charges of kidnapping and sexual assault, died in an Andes, N.Y., man's house, New York State Police said.

His death in the Catskill Mountains town ended a nationwide manhunt that began after the two prostitutes escaped and pleaded for help in the streets of a Baltimore public housing project.

New York State Police said little more than that Elliott was armed with a handgun when he arrived at an Andes man's home about 10 p.m. Sunday, and that he died in a "confrontation" with the man, identified as Robert Webster, 45.

But neighbor Robert Wayman provided more details. He said Webster told him that he shot Elliott in self-defense -- and that a wounded Elliott then used a .44-caliber Magnum to kill himself.

Wayman said Webster ran to his house immediately after the shooting.

"He was pretty freaked out," Wayman said, adding that police then went to Wayman's house for a two-hour interview with Webster.

Richard Northrup, the newly appointed Delaware County District Attorney, said Elliott was shot "multiple times," and that Elliott and Webster knew each other. The two apparently had met previously through a proposed real estate deal.

Police in New York said Webster had not been charged in the shooting as of yesterday.

Elliott, who had an extensive criminal record, was sentenced to 60 years in prison for kidnapping and torturing a California teen-ager nearly 30 years ago. He spent 14 years in prison before being released on parole. Within three years, he was sentenced to four years in prison for conspiring to transport stolen securities across state lines.

On Friday, Elliott was charged in a warrant with using chains and shackles to imprison two prostitutes in a dimly lighted, hidden room in his Rosedale home. One of the women was held for five days, the other for less than a day.

Abruptly left his job

Elliott had been on the run since Thursday night, when he abruptly left his job as a temporary worker at an auto parts warehouse near Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Co-workers said he was taking a break in an employee lounge when he saw a television news report about the two women's escape. He then fled, they said.

Meanwhile, county police, following up on imprecise tips from Elliott's neighbors, were at General Motors Corp.'s Broening Highway plant.

Co-workers at the GATX Logistics facility, where Elliott worked the second shift assembling wooden shipping crates, recalled Elliott as a capable worker. But they said one female employee had confided a distrust of him and had complained that he followed her home at least once.

Also, several employees described a prank that might have been forgettable except for one detail. When one worker repeatedly misplaced his chair, Elliott helped attach it to a desk -- with a chain and padlock.

"They were calling him the chain man," Charlee Simon, a co-worker, said yesterday.

Elliott once confided, without elaboration, that he was a "sexually dominant person," co-worker Tony Taylor said yesterday.

Taylor said Elliott was unusually quiet the night he disappeared. Taylor asked him what was wrong.

"He said, 'I've been up all night,' " Taylor said.

After Elliott was charged Friday, police enlisted the aid of the FBI's fugitive task force. Early yesterday, county police learned that Elliott apparently was dead.

Bill Toohey, a Baltimore County police spokesman, said yesterday that investigators will continue to see if Elliott was responsible for any unsolved crimes.

"We are going to be carefully looking over the evidence acquired at his house to see if it indeed does provide us with information on any open cases," the spokesman said.

Toohey was unable to immediately trace Elliott's path from suburban Baltimore to Andes, a small town in the Catskill Forest Preserve, a vacation hamlet two and a half hours from New York City.

Neighbor's account

Wayman -- Webster's neighbor -- said he heard Webster tell this version of events to police:

After returning from a hunting expedition, Webster heard a knock on his door about 7: 30 p.m. Sunday. Webster recognized Elliott as the man who had wanted to buy property from him more than a year ago, Wayman said. The ill-fated deal apparently left bitter feelings because Webster had refused to return Elliott's deposit.

Elliott told Webster of the charges against him and asked for a place to hide, but Webster refused, Wayman said.

When Elliott left, Webster called police -- and then realized that Elliott apparently had stolen his .44-caliber Magnum handgun. State troopers came to the house and then left. Elliott then returned, pointed the gun at Webster and "hogtied" him with rope, Wayman said.

Elliott then set out to steal Webster's car, but he could not shut off the car alarm, Wayman said. By the time Elliott returned to the house, Webster had freed himself and reached for his .22-caliber pistol.

Elliott reportedly ignored Webster's order to surrender. Wayman said that before both men fired their guns, Elliott made one last statement.

" 'I'm not going back to jail,' " Elliott reportedly said. " 'Shoot me. They're going to kill me anyway.' "

Pub Date: 9/17/96

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