Police and friends wonder why after woman's shooting death Detectives find no signs of struggle or robbery

June 06, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

LaCharro-Maria Williams was supposed to be celebrating yesterday. She had the day off from work but planned to attend the sixth-anniversary party of the nursing home where she supervised a cleaning staff. She had asked a co-worker to save her some banana trifle.

But police said a man at an East Baltimore corner shot Williams in the face hours before the cross-town festivities were to begin, killing the 28-year-old mother in a crime that has puzzled detectives.

The Good Samaritan Nursing Center, on the Good Samaritan Hospital grounds in Northeast Baltimore, turned its party into a -- memorial service attended by 70 people, including nurses, doctors and residents.

"She had a smile that people would go crazy over," said Peggy Leonard, the nursing home administrator. "This is a painful day for us. She cleaned the rooms, but she also took the time to hug the patients."

Police reported few leads yesterday. Investigators tracing Williams' final steps said she left her rowhouse in the 1300 block of N. Linwood Ave. shortly after 8 a.m. She walked her 7-year-old son to a baby-sitter's house around the corner.

Neighbors reported hearing a gunshot about 8: 15 a.m. Police said the baby sitter walked back up the street with the boy and found the body sprawled at Linwood and East Preston Street, near a small plot of yellow flowers.

Redessa Harris, who lives across the street, said she was upstairs cleaning when she heard the noise. "I thought a picture had fallen off the wall," she said. "Then I came downstairs and saw all the people outside."

Agent Ragina L. Cooper, a city police spokeswoman, said Williams had been shot once in the face and was pronounced dead on arrival at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Detectives reported no suspects or witnesses. "It doesn't appear to be a robbery, and there didn't appear to be a struggle," Cooper said.

Neighbors stood outside yesterday afternoon, staring at the empty intersection and shaking their heads in disbelief.

"It is unbelievable," said Sharon Matthews, 31, who lives upstairs from Williams and had known her since childhood. "She had a young son. She took him to school and went to work. That's it."

"She was a neat, pleasant, independent woman," Matthews said.

Relatives could not be reached yesterday.

East Baltimore is the city's most violent section, with double the number of murders of any other area. Williams lived just east of high-crime neighborhoods, on a street of neatly kept rowhouses with porches, trimmed lawns and flower gardens.

Williams moved to the Clifton-Berea neighborhood, near Fort Worthington Elementary School, six years ago. She was the first person hired at the Good Samaritan Nursing Center, which opened in 1992.

As a housekeeping supervisor, she directed up to 10 cleaners who were responsible for the building and the 147 patients rooms.

Leonard said Williams was excited about the anniversary party.

Though she had the day off, she planned to attend but wanted to make sure her favorite dessert wouldn't be devoured before she arrived.

"She wanted to make sure we saved the banana trifle," Leonard said.

Pub Date: 6/06/98

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