Missing teen found in D.C. apt. Girl, 17, who supplied knife in killing is under suicide watch

September 01, 1998|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

A six-day hunt for Jane Frances DeCosta ended yesterday in Washington, where police found the 17-year-old girl who supplied the knife used in the 1995 killing of a Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital counselor.

DeCosta was discovered in an apartment in southeast Washington, police said, and was being kept under suicide watch at the jail in the Sixth District. She had been missing since Wednesday from her parents' house in Timonium where she was staying temporarily.

"She had been [in the apartment] a couple of days," said District of Columbia Police Sgt. John Hedgecock, who was one of the arresting officers. "The neighborhood is a rough place."

Hedgecock said district police were called a few days ago by XTC Baltimore County detectives, who said DeCosta might be staying in one of three places. One of them was an apartment, belonging to a friend of a friend of DeCosta's, in the 5200 block of E St., according to Hedgecock.

DeCosta did not resist arrest, Hedgecock said. A hearing in D.C. District Court was scheduled for today on the charge that she violated her probation, part of her sentence in the 1995 killing of Sharon Edwards, a 26-year-old single mother and counselor. Baltimore County police said they planned to ask that DeCosta be returned to the county.

Edwards was stabbed 26 times by then-16-year-old Benjamin Scott Garris, who was convicted of murder and is serving a life sentence without parole. DeCosta told police that she supplied the hunting knife used in the stabbing. She was convicted last year of being an accessory after the fact in the murder of Edwards and sentenced to five years, with most of it suspended, and has been in a locked mental health facility in Florida since then as part of her sentence.

DeCosta had come back to Maryland about 10 days ago to testify in a case unrelated to the Edwards slaying, and was staying with her parents. Early Wednesday morning, she disappeared from her parents' home.

DeCosta's lawyer, M. Cristina Gutierrez, said that the earliest DeCosta could be back in the Baltimore area would be late today.

"We are going to waive extradition,' " Gutierrez said yesterday. "This is a shaky, terrified kid." Gutierrez said DeCosta had been placed under suicide watch in the jail for her own protection.

Pub Date: 9/01/98

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