Man was shot after he, friends drank at townhouse, police say Three were playing with loaded gun, witnesses say

March 12, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

The 18-year-old Edgemere man whose body county police found in Odenton woods Monday night was shot to death after he and two friends had been drinking and began playing with a loaded gun, police said witnesses have told them.

Police spokeswoman Carol Frye said Billy Joe Ace of the 2500 block of Wagner Ave. was shot once in the head early Monday in a townhouse in the 500 block of Realm Court. She said Ace and his friends might have been smoking marijuana.

"Somehow the gun was brought out, some horseplay started and the gun went off," Frye said.

County police found the body about a mile from the townhouse just after 11 p.m. Monday when one of the witnesses, a 17-year-old from Dundalk, called Baltimore County police and reported the shooting.

Frye said detectives interviewed witnesses again yesterday to try to determine how the shooting occurred. She said that was difficult because the police were called so late.

"You have a scene that wasn't contained," Frye said. "By the time the detectives got there, things had been moved. The body, certainly, had been moved."

Frye said Ace and the 17-year-old had gone to the home of Jennifer Crane, 25, early Sunday afternoon to visit their friend Jason Keith Hamel, 18, who rented a room there. Crane said she was asleep in an upstairs bedroom when the shooting occurred downstairs, where the three men were, Frye said.

Frye said she did not know whether witnesses knew the gun was loaded when the shooting occurred. Dr. Dennis Chute, an assistant state medical examiner, said Ace died of a gunshot to the forehead. Frye said a 12-gauge shotgun believed to be the weapon was recovered in the house.

Frye said the 17-year-old told detectives he left the house right after the shooting. Hamel said he put the body into Crane's car and took it to the woods, she said.

Crane told detectives she hurried out of the house the next morning to get to work and "knows absolutely nothing" about the shooting, Frye said.

No charges have been filed.

"It is such a confusing case," Frye said. "What [detectives] are going to do is complete the investigation before talking to the state's attorney's office."

Pub Date: 3/12/98

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