Shooting victim found in woods Police think 18-year-old was shot in nearby house

March 11, 1998|By SUN STAFF

County police discovered the body of an 18-year-old Baltimore County man with a single bullet wound to the head in the woods near an Odenton townhouse community Monday. He had been shot in one of the houses Sunday evening, police said.

Lt. Jeff Kelly, a police spokesman, identified the victim as Billy Joe Ace of the 2500 block of Wagner Ave. in Edgemere.

Monday night, he said, detectives questioned the residents of the house where they think the shooting occurred -- Jennifer Crane, 25, and her boyfriend, Jason Keith Hamel, 18 -- and a 17-year-old Dundalk youth Kelly did not identify because he is a juvenile.

The three were in the house, in the 500 block of Realm Court, when the shooting occurred. Kelly said. No one has been charged, he said.

Kelly said the victim, Hamel and the juvenile were in the living room about 8 p.m. Sunday, which is when police think Ace was shot. Crane was sleeping in a bedroom upstairs at the time, Kelly said.

Kelly said Anne Arundel police were not told of the shooting until the 17-year-old called Baltimore County police about 6: 15 p.m. Monday.

"He said he had some information concerning a shooting in Anne Arundel County," Kelly said, "so we picked him up from Dundalk and he showed us the house. When officers went inside the house, what they saw led them to believe that a shooting had occurred."

He would not say what the officers saw but said that after police searched the house, one of the witnesses led them to the woods, where they found Ace's body just after 11 p.m.

Kelly said detectives found a shotgun in the vicinity, but he would not say where. He said Ace's body was taken to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore for an autopsy.

"We have to go back and reconstruct what happened that night," Kelly said. "We were called a day after it happened. We are investigating this as a homicide."

Kelly said the three people in the living room that night were longtime friends and that Hamel moved into the house about a month and a half ago.

No one answered the door at Crane's home yesterday, but Jean Hamby, who baby-sits her daughter's three young children in the neighborhood, said Crane told her after she returned from police questioning that Ace's death was an accident.

Crane "said she didn't know [about the death] and she just went to work on Monday," Hamby said.

Residents of the community of about townhouses, known as King's Ransom, where minivans dominate and pink Barbie bicycles and plastic tricycles clutter the sidewalks, were stunned by the discovery of the body.

Early last month, a 15-year-old youth accidentally shot himself in the head while he was playing with a gun at a friend's house in Severn. The youth, who lived one block from the house where Ace is thought to have been shot, died.

"I told my mother I used to feel safe around here," said Kim Steir, who lives a few doors from Crane's home. "I definitely don't expect this to happen here. It's a good neighborhood. But I guess it can happen anywhere."

Hamby's daughter, Susan Delong, who lives across the street from the Crane house, said most of the neighbors know each other well but that Crane and Hamel kept to themselves. She said Crane was quiet and pleasant and has lived in the neighborhood for more than three years. In recent months, Delong said, three to four male teen-agers began hanging around Crane's home regularly.

"They were hollering, drinking and speeding up and down the road all the time," Delong said. "I was very concerned because there are children out on the street playing all the time."

About midnight Saturday, Delong said, her 7-year-old son, Christopher, told her he had heard what sounded like a gunshot outside but that she told him it probably was something that had been knocked over. It wasn't until the body was found, she said, that other neighbors said they, too, had heard what sounded like a gunshot Saturday night.

Pub Date: 3/11/98

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