Drug dealing suspected at Hopkins Police link killing in West Baltimore to house near campus

Botched deal blamed

Police arrest psychology student and recent graduate

March 11, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Kate Shatzkin contributed to this article.

Police are investigating a Johns Hopkins University student and a recent Hopkins graduate who allegedly sold cocaine on the North Baltimore campus from a Charles Village rowhouse.

Authorities said they made the discovery after a Friday night execution-style slaying in a West Baltimore apartment in which the student's boyfriend was bound and shot during a botched drug deal.

The boyfriend, Printice McNair, 23, of Arbutus was a former basketball standout at Catonsville High School.

Three people, including the student and former student, escaped injury by jumping from a second-story apartment window. Two gunmen also escaped, but left behind more than four pounds of cocaine and two handguns as they ran from police.

Police said they began looking into the alleged drug sales at Hopkins after the slaying, but said they have not uncovered large-scale distribution. Federal drug enforcement agents are also investigating because of the amount of drugs involved.

Authorities said they learned about drug selling at Hopkins from interviews with drug suspects and with another former Hopkins student from Sri Lanka. The unnamed informant told police he knew one of the suspects and sold cocaine and heroin himself.

Police said their investigation revealed that a rowhouse in the 100 block of E. 32nd St. -- two blocks from the Homewood campus and occupied by the student who was arrested -- was used as a drug stash house.

"The perception is that if you go to Hopkins, you are above this sort of thing," said Detective Kenneth Welsh of the homicide unit. "We all know better."

Dennis O'Shea, a spokesman for Hopkins, said the charges by police are a concern, but denied serious drug problems among the 3,400 undergraduate and 1,500 graduate students at the Homewood campus.

"Certainly we are aware that there is alcohol abuse among students," O'Shea said. "I certainly wouldn't deny reports of marijuana problems. But there are no reports whatsoever of problems with heroin and very limited reports of problems with cocaine."

Police believe suspects connected to the Charles Village rowhouse were overpowered when they allegedly tried to sell drugs in a rough West Baltimore neighborhood to suspected dealers they didn't know.

"They were messing with people who were a little harder core than they were," Welsh said. "I believe they honestly thought they were going to make a deal. But they were being set up from the start. They weren't in the apartment more than 10 seconds before guns were pulled on them."

Yesterday, police charged one suspect, David Mitchell, 39, of the 300 block of E. 22nd St. in a warrant with first-degree murder. He was being sought yesterday. The second suspect is known to police only as Dexter.

Three of the four people who police said tried to sell drugs to the suspects in the slaying were charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The fourth was McNair, who was regarded in 1993 as one of the county's largest and most intimidating basketball players. He averaged 18.4 points and 8.3 rebounds a game.

McNair's girlfriend, Jaimie Kim Kornreich, 21, who police said lives in the suspected drug stash house in the 100 block of E. 32nd St., was released yesterday on $10,000 bail. She is a psychology senior at Hopkins. A school spokesman said she has been barred from attending classes.

Also charged is Atsushi Yasuno, 23, of the 300 block of E. 30th St., who graduated from the Hopkins psychology department in 1995. He works as a counselor at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, where a spokesman said he has been placed on leave without pay.

The third person charged is Thomas C. Logan Jr., 20, of the 400 block of N. Hilton St. Police describe him as a friend of McNair. Logan and Yasuno were being held yesterday on $150,000 bail.

Kornreich, whose parents live in Spring Valley, N.Y., and Yasuno, who comes from Kamakura, Japan, about 20 miles south of Tokyo, have never before been arrested in Maryland. McNair was convicted of drug possession March 3 and received a 90-day suspended sentence. He was on probation when he was killed.

Court records filed yesterday and interviews with two of the lead investigators in the case reveal a chilling sequence of events that led to Friday's shooting on the third floor of a Rosemont apartment.

Detective David Neverdon of the homicide unit said it starts with the former Hopkins student from Sri Lanka. Neverdon said the Sri Lankan told Yasuno that he knew two people on the west side who wanted to buy a half pound of cocaine for $8,000.

The detective said Yasuno went to Kornreich, who checked with her boyfriend and allegedly set up the deal. Neverdon said drugs were routinely stashed at the East 32nd Street rowhouse.

Friday night, police said Yasuno, Kornreich, Logan and McNair drove to West Baltimore in two cars -- a red 1993 Honda Civic registered to Kornreich's mother and a 1994 Buick -- with four pounds of cocaine divided between the two vehicles.

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