Pair suspected in several crimes 2 men arrested in slaying investigated in other deaths

November 08, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Brenda Buote contributed to this article.

Two men arrested in the shooting of a teen-ager whose body was found off Hartsdale Road could be responsible for four other slayings and a spate of other crimes in North and Northeast Baltimore, police said yesterday.

"I think we'll put a little dent in what has been going on up there," said Detective John Burns, one of two homicide investigators on the case. "It's just the tip of the iceberg right now. It's a two-man crime team."

Police arrested Mark Anthony Hemphill, 18, of the 5100 block of Ivanhoe Ave. on Oct. 31. They arrested Shawnta Antwan Purnell, 22, of the 1000 block of Cedarcroft Way on Wednesday. Both have been charged with first-degree murder and are being held without bail.

Burns said the two are being investigated in four slayings and a home robbery in North Baltimore in which a gun collection was stolen and its owner tied on the floor of his living room.

The slayings were part of a recent crime wave in the Northeastern District in which six slayings have occurred since mid-October, including the fatal shooting of a man on a packed MTA bus, a case that has not been solved.

Police initially believed many of the slayings were drug-related, but detectives said yesterday that the slayings being linked to the two suspects started as robberies.

"We're relieved to hear the case was solved," said Maj. Bert L. Shirey, commander of the Northeastern District, who doubled patrols in hard-hit areas and met several times with concerned residents.

The case in which Hemphill and Purnell were charged stems from the Oct. 18 slaying of Christopher Claude Bailey, 18, who lived in the 700 block of E. 41st. St.

Burns said the victim had been gambling with the suspects before he was killed.

The detective said two men saw Bailey leave with a large sum of money, followed him to his Acura and jumped inside. One man put a gun to the back of his head and forced him to drive to the 1500 block of Hartsdale Road, he said. "They tried to walk Bailey into the woods, but he didn't want to go," Burns said. "They shot him right there."

Bailey's body was found Oct. 18 on the edge of the woods with a gunshot to the head. Burns said his car was found burned near one suspect's house.

Police said Bailey had no criminal record and had a job.

"He just fell in with bad company and bad luck," said Shirey.

Two weeks after Bailey's body was found, police found the body of another man about 30 feet away. Burns said that slaying is being investigated for possible links to the suspects.

Two days before Bailey's body was found, police said two gunmen knocked on the door of a North Baltimore home and confronted the owner, Charles Bertorelli, 26, who had just returned from walking his two bulldogs.

Police said the armed men forced Bertorelli to the floor, struck him in the head with a .38 caliber revolver and tied him up with a blue dog leash and a black nylon shoestring. They ransacked the house and stole his gun collection.

Lt. Larry Leeson, head of the robbery unit, said the suspects have not been charged in the robbery, but Burns said many of the guns taken from Bertorelli were found in a garage of one of the suspect's aunts.

Pub Date: 11/08/96

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