Westminster man charged in theft of antique photos Carroll Historical Society lost items worth $25,000

September 13, 1997|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Westminster police have recovered $7,500 worth of antique photos stolen from the Historical Society of Carroll County and have charged a 28-year-old Westminster resident with theft.

Police said a man posing as a woman and using the name Mercedias Holt sold some of the stolen items. The seller gave an address in the first block of Westmorland St., police said.

Police said that when they went to that address at 7 p.m. Thursday, they found $7,500 worth of items stolen from the historical society, along with a small quantity of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. They arrested Brian Keith Childers and charged him in the theft.

Some Civil War-era photographs of Union soldiers from Maryland belonging to the society are still missing, police said.

According to charging documents filed in Carroll County District Court yesterday, historical society officials may not have been aware of the theft until this week.

A researcher called Jay A. Graybeal, the society's director, Wednesday, seeking information about photographs the researcher had bought. The photographs, taken about 1865, depicted the Western Maryland College faculty and staff, court documents said.

After checking his files, Graybeal discovered that an album relating to those years at the college was missing. Checking further, he found that three other photo albums for that period were missing, along with 10 photographs stored in brown paper cases and 25 photographs of Maryland Civil War soldiers, the documents said.

The researcher bought the photographs from an intermediary, who had purchased the college album and other photographs belonging to the society from a Reisterstown curiosity shop, court papers said.

A shop employee told police that a "very thin, 30-year-old female, 5 foot 11 with shoulder-length blond hair and very crooked teeth" had sold him the photographs. The employee later called the seller at home and learned that the seller had more photographs to sell, the charging documents said.

Childers was sometimes part of a paid cleaning crew that worked at the society from late July to mid-August, when photographs and albums worth $25,000 were stolen, apparently in two separate incidents, court papers said.

When arrested Thursday during the police search, Childers was "dressed in female attire," police said. He was charged with felony burglary and theft and misdemeanor possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and was released on $25,000 bond.

Graybeal declined to comment yesterday, saying the incident was under investigation. He said he was pleased with the recovery of the stolen items and hoped that the rest would be returned.

Pub Date: 9/13/97

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