Two men charged in 15-year-old slayings Construction worker, watchman killed at bar

March 16, 1998|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

After reviewing files and reinterviewing witnesses, Baltimore County police have charged two men in the slayings of a night watchman and a construction worker at a White Marsh tavern more than 15 years ago.

Each suspect is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the Oct. 7, 1982, killings at the Alcove Bar in the 10700 block of Pulaski Highway. George Wilker, 65, and Lurty G. Wood, 48, were shot to death in what police believe was a botched burglary.

Charles Michael Grimes, 38, a self-employed house painter who lives in the 7300 block of Waldman Ave. in Edgemere, was arrested Friday, police said. They said Jack Donald Clark, 53, was arrested Saturday by authorities in Shelby, N.C., where he ++ lives.

Police said Grimes is being held without bond at the county detention center, and Clark was expected to be extradited today.

Police said Grimes and Clark were suspected initially, but authorities did not have enough information then to charge them.

But homicide detectives reviewing some of the approximately 150 unsolved killings in the county met with some of the people previously interviewed in the Alcove Bar slayings and questioned Grimes again, police said.

Police spokesman Bill Toohey said that detectives reached "no dramatic breakthrough," but police believe they uncovered enough evidence to charge the suspects.

The search for the suspects began when police were called to investigate the double homicide about 5: 30 a.m. Oct. 7, 1982.

According to police, tavern owner George Barnstorf, 63, and Wilker, a night watchman who lived behind the bar, had finished cleaning up for the night, and Barnstorf was preparing to leave when he turned and saw Wilker being held at gunpoint by a thin, blond man with a bandanna covering his face.

Barnstorf ran out to the parking lot to summon help and found Wood, a heavy-equipment operator who was waiting in his pickup for his carpool to a Jessup construction site, police said.

As Wood, of the 11000 block of Bird River Grove Road in White Marsh, was leaving to get help, he heard two shots, ran to the front entrance of the bar, and was fatally shot, police said. Barnstorf was hit on the head from behind and knocked unconscious.

Initially, police received anonymous tips and conducted at least 100 interviews, but could not get enough evidence to file charges.

But Wilker's family said they always believed the case would be solved.

"We hadn't given up hope," said Raymond C. Clark, a nephew of Wilker and no relation to Jack Clark.

Raymond Clark said Wilker worked at the tavern for many years and had no wife or children.

Wood, called "Woody" by his friends, was married and had three children.

Pub Date: 3/16/98

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