Staffer cleared in case of altered prison file Parole director's son was agent for suspect in killing

July 23, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The son of a top state prison official has been cleared by investigators who are trying to determine how a convict's parole status was altered, setting the parolee free two months before he was charged with a murder in Baltimore, officials said yesterday.

W. Roland Knapp Jr., the son of parole director W. Roland Knapp, had been the suspect's case agent four years ago, but had no contact with him in the current case, said Patrick McGee, a program administrator for the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation.

But McGee said investigators have not yet determined why Christopher Mills, 25, had a notation in his prison case file that prematurely ended his parole status.

Mills was paroled on a theft conviction on Oct. 12, 1995, and was to be under "maximum supervision" until Nov. 22, 1999.

In April, he was convicted on a drug charge and served 30 days in jail.

Officials say Mills' parole could have been revoked because of the conviction, sending him back to prison until 1999. The closed notation in the computer kept that from happening.

McGee said investigators have not determined how the case file was altered. He said everything from deliberate tampering to a clerical error is being examined.

On June 30, two months after Mills was convicted of the drug charge, Leona G. Klimm was found repeatedly stabbed in her Brooklyn home.

Police charged Mills, who lived a block away, and his roommate, Carlos Ray Halcomb, 25, in her slaying. They said the motive was robbery.

Halcomb surrendered to police on July 7 and is being held in the Central Booking and Intake Center without bail until his trial, which has not been scheduled.

Authorities are looking for Mills, who is charged in a warrant with first-degree murder.

Yesterday, the FBI released an updated photo of the suspect, who was last seen two weeks ago in the Butcher's Hill neighborhood of Southeast Baltimore. His last known address was in the 3500 block of Sixth St.

In 1992, Mills was acquitted in the bludgeoning death of a man in Patterson Park during what prosecutors described as a gay-bashing. A 45-year-old man's head was split open with a wooden post.

During his trial, Mills and two of his friends testified that the victim tried to molest one of the trio in the park, sparking a fight.

All three admitted participating in the fight, but they blamed other people for delivering the fatal blows.

Mills' friends -- a 16-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man -- were convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five and seven years in prison respectively.

Pub Date: 7/23/98

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