2 men indicted in killings in 1971, '81 Fresh leads, luck credited with finding two suspects

"That's real luck." Mark Cohen, assistant state's attorney, on suspect in 1981 homicide being stopped in Washington state

September 11, 1998|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

A grand jury in Baltimore has indicted two men in killings that occurred more than 15 years ago. One had been a fugitive longer than any other suspect in a homicide in recent Baltimore history.

The charges against Ben David Ross, 55, and Orlando Padgett, 41, announced yesterday, followed the indictment last week of a man charged with a killing that stymied police for 30 years.

Assistant State's Attorney Mark Cohen, chief of the office's homicide unit, said the indictments are the result of fresh information and good old-fashioned luck.

Both Ross and Padgett had arrest warrants issued for them years ago but police were unable to find them.

Ross was arrested in New York last month by members of a federal task force that searches for fugitives. Padgett was picked up by police in Washington state in February on a minor charge. Police then discovered the outstanding warrant.

"That's real luck," Cohen said referring to Padgett's case. "It's good to see cases prosecuted when they should be."

Ross is accused of stabbing a 31-year-old West Baltimore man in a drug dispute in February 1971. Police named him as a suspect within days of the killing but could not find him.

His name remained on the list of wanted homicide suspects for years, until authorities decided to run his fingerprints on the chance they might come up with something. They did.

The prints belonged to Edward O'Neal Ross on Lincoln Avenue in the Bronx. New York police tracked him down and he confirmed he was the person wanted in the warrant, authorities said.

He was extradited to Baltimore about three weeks ago. An arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 12.

Padgett faces charges in the shooting of 17-year-old William Redditt during a drug dispute at an after-hours club in the 1900 block of Clifton Ave in 1981. He remained at large until police in Snohomish County in Washington arrested him for a misdemeanor charge in February. He was brought to Baltimore last month and will be arraigned Nov. 9.

Last week, David Dwight McNair, 54, was indicted by a grand jury after an anonymous tip reopened the 1968 homicide case of janitor Carroll Clifton Savage, 23, of the 1600 block of Thomas St.

Authorities said McNair was spotted on the street by someone who thought he had been locked up for Savage's killing. The person called to police who reopened the case and found witnesses.

Cohen said such cases can be difficult to put together. Witnesses are often dead, physical evidence limited and people's memories spotty.

In Ross' case, police believe one of the detectives may be dead and one witness is in prison.

Pub Date: 9/11/98

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