Police charge woman in killing of elderly man in 1988

May 12, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Police said they had a suspect almost immediately after 81-year-old Milton Stiekman was fatally stabbed in his Park Heights home in 1988. But they couldn't match fingerprints to the woman they were questioning.

A decade later, city police said they have finally made the link. Yesterday, they arrested the original suspect in the case and charged her with repeatedly stabbing the elderly man as he ate dinner at his kitchen table.

Marvina "Peanut" Spriggs, 31, of the 900 block of Chauncey St. was arrested at her home yesterday morning by members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force and charged with first-degree murder. She was 22 at the time of the slaying.

Investigators said they believe that Stiekman was killed during a break-in at his home in the 2600 block of Oswego Ave. Police said the house had been ransacked, a metal cash box pried open and a knife left on top of a living room bureau.

Stiekman lived alone on the first floor of a two-story rowhouse and rented out a second-floor apartment, which was vacant at the time of the slaying. He was described as a gentle, religious man who drove a restored antique Model-T Ford that he parked in his back yard.

He was a native Baltimorean who had lived in the same house since 1958, and he had owned an antique store with his brother. His relatives had called him "courageous" for remaining in a neighborhood that had deteriorated because of drugs.

Police said then that Stiekman was stabbed in the back as he sat alone at his kitchen table eating a meal. They said a rear basement door had been forced open.

Investigators remained tight-lipped about their case yesterday and declined to discuss details of their investigation.

Agent Ragina L. Cooper, a police spokeswoman, said detectives in 1988 were unable to link physical evidence to the suspect. But an anonymous phone call to the homicide unit a week ago prompted police to reopen the investigation, she said.

Sgt. Roger Nolan, head of the Cold Case Squad, would only confirm that Stiekman's house had been ransacked. He said his detectives did not know whether the suspect knew the victim.

A police source close to the investigation said detectives in 1988 had fingerprints from the slaying scene and had interviewed the woman as a possible suspect. But the source said the suspect had never been arrested and didn't have fingerprints on file.

Unable to fingerprint the suspect without charging her, detectives were forced to release the woman, the source said.

The anonymous tip led police to run the fingerprints again, and this time, because the woman had been arrested in the intervening years, they got a link needed to file charges.

Pub Date: 5/12/98

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