Mounty Airy killing linked to a suicide Man fatally shot his estranged wife, then self, police say

First homicide of year

Couple apparently had a history of domestic violence

January 27, 1998|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Erin Texeira contributed to this article.

The estranged husband of a 31-year-old Mount Airy woman apparently killed her with a shotgun at her Howard County home then shot himself to death at an entrance to Patapsco Valley State Park in Baltimore County, police said yesterday.

Howard police went to Vera Case's home in the 1100 block of St. Michael's Road west of Lisbon shortly after 8 a.m. yesterday to check on her after co-workers reported that she had not been seen or heard from for two days.

Police found Case's body in a first-floor bedroom of her newly purchased home. Police say Case was killed by a shotgun blast under the chin, but they have not determined when she died.

Case, a native of Germany, is the first homicide victim in Howard County this year. There was one homicide in the county in 1997.

The State Medical Examiner was to conduct an autopsy, said Sgt. Tara Ball, a Howard police spokeswoman.

Case's husband, Dwight, 44, was found dead Sunday afternoon in the couple's car at Johnnycake and Hollifield roads, at the park entrance. Baltimore County police said Case shot himself in the head.

Baltimore County police Cpl. Jerry Fitch said no investigation had been planned into Dwight Case's death because it had been ruled a suicide. It was not until Vera Case's body was found that Howard police contacted Baltimore County homicide detectives to establish a link between the deaths.

Howard County detectives said they have evidence that indicates that Dwight Case planned the murder-suicide, but offered no details.

According to Dr. David Tayman, owner of Columbia Animal Hospital, where Vera Case worked as a lab technician for the past eight years, the couple had a history of domestic violence and had been separated for months.

"We had all been concerned for her welfare for some time," he said. The Cases "had been having problems, and we all knew about the violent aspects of his personality. She never came into work battered but we knew that something was wrong.

"We never thought that anything like this would happen," Tayman said. "Everyone kept telling her to be careful, but she never thought he'd do anything like this either. She said he was really, really afraid of going to jail."

Tayman said Case's father called the hospital over the weekend from Nuremberg, Germany, to ask that someone check on her.

"Her father said Vera had not returned a number of his calls and he was so worried about her," Tayman said yesterday. "We became concerned, too, when she didn't show up for work, because she's usually so prompt."

According to Tayman, Case met her future husband while he was stationed at an Army base in Germany. Vera Case went to work at the animal hospital in Columbia after the couple moved to Baltimore County in the late 1980s.

But the marriage cracked under the strain of Dwight Case's jealousy and violent tendencies, Tayman said. Vera Case was said to have been looking to get away from her husband for years and moved into her Mount Airy home two months ago.

The home is one story, situated among rolling hills and farms south of Interstate 70.

"When she got her house -- and she bought it in her own name -- her whole world just opened up," Tayman said. "She had been planning to have us over but she never even got a chance to do that. This is just devastating."

Tayman said Vera Case's parents were scheduled to arrive tomorrow to accompany her body to Germany. A funeral service is planned at the Witzke Funeral Home in Columbia.

Pub Date: 1/27/98

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