Man questioned in wife's death, mother-in-law's beating He might have tried to blow up dwellings, investigators say

October 07, 1997|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police were questioning last night a 43-year-old man who is suspected of beating his wife to death, critically injuring his mother-in-law and trying to blow up their Hamilton home and a neighbor's residence.

Police said the man, who neighbors and police said suffers from a terminal illness, had tampered with natural gas lines in his residence and the neighbor's house.

The suspect's name was withheld pending charges and the victims' names were not released, said Angelique Cook-Hayes, a police spokeswoman.

She said police were trying to piece together exactly what occurred yesterday at the house in the 5300 block of Tramore Road off Echodale Avenue.

According to Cook-Hayes, the suspect drove to his residence in the afternoon, left his 9-month-old son in the car and went inside.

About 3 p.m., someone called the Fire Department to report an injured woman outside the house, Cook-Hayes said. When paramedics arrived, they saw the suspect's mother-in-law lying on the front lawn and bleeding from multiple injuries.

Cook-Hayes said the paramedics then saw the suspect drag the badly beaten body of his wife from the house and place it on the front porch.

Police arrived minutes later and found the husband leaning against a tree and crying in front of the house, his clothing stained with blood. The man, who was not injured, was arrested and taken to police headquarters, Cook-Hayes said.

The mother-in-law was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she was in critical condition, Cook-Hayes said. The child was turned over to relatives.

Police investigators noticed a strong odor of natural gas coming from the suspect's house and from the house next door and notified Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and the Fire Department.

Police also ordered neighbors out of their homes for a brief period as a precaution, said Cook-Hayes.

After firefighters used exhaust fans to remove most of the gas, police and BGE technicians entered the dwellings. In the suspect's home, they found that the gas line had been disconnected, Cook-Hayes said.

In the basement of the other house, to which the suspect had a key, police found that the safety valve on the water heater's gas line had been broken and a household timing device had been plugged into an electrical outlet and a table lamp plugged into the timer, Cook-Hayes said.

The lamp had been turned on and a piece of newspaper or paper napkin placed on top of the lighted bulb, Cook-Hayes said.

Pub Date: 10/07/97

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