Slaying suspect arrested in N.Y. Man accused of shooting girlfriend as she ran from home

February 14, 1997|By Peter Hermann and Jamie Stiehm | Peter Hermann and Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Rafael Alvarez contributed to this article.

The man wanted on charges that he shot his girlfriend to death Wednesday as she ran from her Northwood home with her two young sons was arrested in the South Bronx last night after wrecking the victim's car while being chased by New York City police, authorities said early today. Sixteen-month-old Joshua Brown -- who was kidnapped after the attack on Shadyside Road and is the suspect's son by Batts -- was rescued without injury after the arrest about 10: 30 p.m. in the Co-Op City housing complex.

Vincent E. Brown, the 33-year-old charged Wednesday night with the murder of Francseea Batts, 30, received cuts and bruises on his head in the crash and was taken to Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx for observation. He was then transferred to the 43rd Precinct to be booked.

"New York police caught him after a stakeout by their cold case squad and the U.S. Marshal's office," said Detective Oscar Requer of the Baltimore homicide unit. "He was driving Batts' car and they recovered a weapon."

Requer said the cold case squads handles cases with open arrest warrants. He said Brown hit another vehicle while driving Batts' gold 1997 Mazda 626 but did not know if it was a police car.

Earlier yesterday, friends and family of Batts complained bitterly that a Baltimore police officer had failed to confiscate a high-powered handgun from Brown on Monday, when he was ordered to stay away from Batts, the mother of three.

While police said the officer did not believe he could legally seize the .357-caliber Magnum locked in a box at Batts' Shadyside Road home, the officer had a restraining order saying the suspect was to "turn over firearms to a law enforcement agency."

In court papers filed to get the restraining order, Batts charged that Brown had beaten her and threatened her life regularly for the past three years.

The case has left Batts' mother, a Baltimore police officer for 16 years, questioning how well domestic abuse victims are protected and whether there is any blame to share in her daughter's death.

"The officer let him walk out with [the gun]," said Eastern District Officer Kate Wood, struggling to hold back tears. "I'm having a problem with the fact the gun wasn't taken. If only he had taken that gun, then maybe my child wouldn't have had to die."

District Court Administrative Judge Mary Ellen T. Rinehardt said yesterday that Judge Charles A. Chiapparelli "ordered [the gun] to be taken away. There's no question that [Batts] did everything she could do."

Police said last night that Officer Gordon Schluderberg, accompanied by a trainee, went to Batts' house in the 1600 block of Shadyside Road on Monday, confronted Brown with the protective order and told him to leave.

Batts had told Schluderberg that Brown kept a .357-caliber Magnum revolver in a locked box, which he was carrying as he prepared to leave Batts' home. Agent Ragina L. Cooper, a city police spokeswoman, said police were wary about opening the box. "The officers did not feel they had a legal right to search it," Cooper said.

'Scope of authority'

"It would be reasonable to assume that an officer may take a gun, especially in an instance of domestic abuse. But the officer acted in what he felt was the scope of his authority," Cooper said.

An autopsy showed that a large-caliber handgun was used in the slaying, but police said they could not conclusively say that it was a .357-caliber Magnum.

Police are investigating whether the suspect held up a Sunoco gas station attendant in White Marsh an hour after the slaying. They said a man driving a gold-colored car with a partial tag number of 817 used a large-caliber handgun to rob the station of more than $200. Family members said that Brown got the gun during a Super Bowl party last month from a cousin visiting from New York.

Batts, along with her brother, bought the two-story red-brick house in the 1600 block of Shadyside Road four months ago. She worked since 1993 in the Extended Therapeutic Day Program at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. "She had a knack for making everyone feel special," said Batts' boss, Patrick Millard. "Everyone thought they had a special relationship with Francseea. [She] brought joy and happiness to our program."

Years of abuse alleged

In seeking the protective order Monday, Batts alleged a three-year period of abuse by her boyfriend, including one attack that she said left her unconscious. Batts said Brown had threatened to burn her house down if she ever kicked him out of the house.

According to court documents, Batts had also found her boyfriend in the basement, "getting high, sitting in the dark and talking nonsense."

On Monday, Batts returned home for lunch and found Brown in her home. She then ran next door to Kendrick Jordan's house.

"She said she wanted to call the police," Jordan recalled. "She said she had someone in her house she needed removed."

Police came and served the temporary protective order, prohibiting Brown from going near Batts, her house, her relatives' houses, her workplace and the children's schools and day-care centers. It also ordered Brown to turn over weapons to police.

Two days later, Wednesday evening, Batts returned home from work and again found her boyfriend in the basement, police said. Police charged that he chased her out of the house and shot her as she ran toward Hillen Road, with her children watching.

Pub Date: 2/14/97

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