Joseph T. Maskell, 73, officer shot in notorious 1964 case

April 17, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Joseph T. Maskell, a retired Baltimore police lieutenant who was shot in a 1964 robbery that began the notorious Veney brothers case, died of lung cancer April 10 at his Mount Washington home. He was 73.

Lieutenant Maskell joined the Police Department in 1946 and, after recovering from his wounds, retired in 1966. He became an adjuster for an insurance company and was appointed vice president of marketing at Freestate Adjusting Co. in 1979. He retired again in 1986 and was a rental car salesman until 1990.

About 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve in 1964, Lieutenant Maskell, assigned to the Northeastern District, responded to a call about a robbery in progress at the Luxies Liquor store in the 2000 block of Greenmount Ave.

"He saw something going on and walked right into a robbery. He was shot twice, and then he staggered to Worsley Street, about 25 feet from Greenmount Avenue, where he was later found," said Bill Rochford, a police lieutenant at the time.

"It was a miracle he survived." said Mr. Rochford, a boyhood friend who grew up with Lieutenant Maskell in Northeast Baltimore.

Samuel J. Veney and Earl Veney became the targets of the city's largest manhunt. The Veneys made the FBI's 10-most-wanted list, the first time two brothers had been on the list.

"The search was intense and went on through the night and into Christmas morning, when Sgt. Jack Lee Cooper was killed by Samuel Veney," said Bill Talbott, a retired Evening Sun reporter who covered the case.

During the 19-day manhunt, police searched 200 homes in black communities without obtaining search warrants.

The illegal searches prompted the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to file a federal lawsuit that resulted in an 1966 injunction against the city police.

The Veney brothers, who had fled the state, were captured in March 1965 while working in a zipper factory on Long Island, N.Y.

They were tried and convicted in Frederick, where the case was moved because of pretrial publicity. Earl Veney was sentenced to 30 years in prison and in 1976 was found hanged in the House of Correction in Jessup, where Samuel Veney is serving a life sentence.

Lieutenant Maskell was awarded two official commendations and received 10 letters of commendation.

"He was a very decent guy who never really held any animosity about what happened," Mr. Rochford said. "I think the only regret he had was the fact that it ended his career. In later years, he really never talked about it."

Retired Sun reporter Robert A. Erlandson said, "He was the prototypical Irish cop with a big smile and very caring and most of all was well-liked."

A 1942 graduate of City College, Lieutenant Maskell served in the Army Coast Artillery from 1942 to 1945 and was discharged as a staff sergeant. He earned a law enforcement certificate from the University of Maryland in 1963.

Graveside services were held Monday.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, the former Gloria Bauer; three daughters, Cynthia DiLiello of Jarrettsville, Mindy Sturgis of Joppatowne and JoAnne Bell of Fallston; and nine grandchildren.

Pub Date: 4/17/98

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