Arrests made 15 years after boy was killed Two brothers charged in 10-year-old's death

September 18, 1997|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Jay Apperson and news researcher Leigh Poitinger contributed to this article.

On a summer night 15 years ago, 10-year-old Adam Edward Faulkner slipped out the back door with his new fishing rig and a comforter, in search of adventure. Four days later, his nude, battered body was found tied to a piling in the Middle River near Hawthorne Park.

Yesterday, two Essex men long suspected in the case were arrested, Baltimore County police said. Roger Allen Stump, 32, of the first block of Haley Road and his brother, John Ellwood Stump, 30, of the 600 block of Dunwich Way were charged with first-degree murder, authorities said.

Late last night, the brothers were still being interviewed by homicide Detectives Jay Landsman and Michael West and were expected to appear early today at a bail hearing before a District Court commissioner, police said.

"Oh, my God, finally -- you don't know what this means to me," said a sobbing Chessa LeAnne Barnett, the boy's mother, who learned of the arrests when a Sun reporter called her.

"This has been an open wound for 15 years," Barnett said. "Every year on the anniversary of his death and his birthday, we go to the nearest body of water and float flowers on the water."

Her son, whose body was found July 2, 1982, had been strangled, wrapped in his comforter, tied to his orange bicycle and tied with fishing line to a piling 15 feet under water, authorities said. Neither his clothes nor the fishing pole he prized so much have been found.

"He was a neat kid -- he didn't deserve to die like that. My son was an innocent little boy -- he was like a cross between the absent-minded professor and Huck Finn," said Barnett, who has since moved and spoke only on the condition that her location not be published.

She thinks Adam went out that July night because he was so eager to use the $40 Zebco fishing rod she had given him. "He snuck out the back door and headed to Hawthorne because my brother lived in the area," she said.

Barnett said she had long suspected the involvement of Roger Stump because of talk she had heard immediately after the slaying.

Similar information supplied detectives with new leads recently. During new interviews with people originally questioned in the case, one person told police that someone had admitted "to hitting the boy in the head with a cinder block," said police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Novak.

Police had not released information about Faulkner's head injuries, found at the time by an autopsy, Novak said -- so the witness' account of the conversation matched with facts known only to investigators and the killers.

The same witness also told police he heard someone bragging at a party in summer 1990 about killing a boy the person described with a racial epithet. The Stumps are white; Adam Faulkner was biracial.

On Tuesday, police sent divers to the area where Faulkner's body had been found. A cinder block and a brick, both trailing monofilament fishing line like that used to tie the child to the piling, were found on the river bottom, according to police documents.

Court documents indicate that the older Stump has a lengthy arrest record dating to 1988, and several convictions for battery, theft and malicious destruction of property. John Stump also has an arrest record, including one in connection with property destruction, records show.

The Stumps, described as having grown up in the Hawthorne Park area of Middle River, a middle-class neighborhood not far from the waterfront park where the child's body was found, neighbors said.

"I remember they were typical boys growing up -- they get in trouble once in a while kid stuff, growing-up stuff," said Daniel J. Bolger Jr., a resident of the neighborhood since 1970. "They really weren't that bad."

Richard May, whose girlfriend is the Stump brothers' sister, said he was shocked by the allegations.

"All I know is, they're decent people," he said. "Roger is one of those people that, if someone's mother needs something fixed on her house, he helps out whether he knows her or not."

May said Roger Stump does contracting work, but was unsure of bTC John Stump's occupation.

Both Stumps had been periodically interviewed by police through the years, he said, but both denied any involvement in the slaying.

One reason the police had suspected the two men was that a witness had seen the two together shortly before the child's death, Novak said.

Barnett, who works in a prison facility, said the slaying had been very hard on Adam's siblings.

Barnett said she had checked with police over the years, even coming back in 1993 to help make a video seeking information on the unsolved crime. Now, she said, she is planning to return to Maryland for the Stumps' trial.

"I want to be there," she said in a voice thick with tears and determination. "It may have taken 15 years, but I have always believed in justice."

Pub Date: 9/18/97

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