Woman, 35, found slain in her home Estranged husband questioned but not charged in Elkridge

Knife wound to the throat

Discovery of victim shocks residents of quiet neighborhood

November 17, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber and Dana Hedgpeth | Del Quentin Wilber and Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Jill Hudson Neal contributed to this article.

An Elkridge mother of a 1-year-old boy was found slain in her family room Sunday night, with a knife wound to her throat, Howard County police said yesterday.

Police released few details of the death of 35-year-old Sara J. Williamson Raras, as detectives questioned her estranged husband last night at the Southern District police station.

Police said the husband, Lorenzo D. Raras, 33, has not been charged.

"He has not been arrested," said Sgt. Steven E. Keller, a department spokesman. "He is here voluntarily and being interviewed."

About 7: 45 p.m. Sunday, a friend of Sara Raras called authorities and asked that police check the house, police said. There, officers found a smashed porch window and Raras on her family room floor, her throat cut, police said.

Her child was not at home at the time of the slaying, police said.

Outside, police found the suspected weapon, a large knife. Police could not pinpoint the time of death and said the killer probably entered through the broken window.

By yesterday morning, Howard County detectives were searching the husband's car and his parents' home in Carney, where Lorenzo Raras has been living since June.

Police stopped Raras about 10 a.m. as he was driving away from his parents' home.

"From Friday afternoon until now, he has been here with his son," Lorenzo Raras' father, Antonio Raras, said in a phone interview. In the background, the child could be heard crying.

Lorenzo Raras works at MCI Telecommunications Corp. in Linthicum and had custody of the child on weekends, court records show.

In the quiet Meadowfield Court neighborhood, residents said they were shocked by what happened at Raras' home, which is nestled against woods at the end of a cul-de-sac. One neighbor recalled seeing Sara Raras return home every day about 3: 30 p.m. from her job at the National Security Agency at Fort Meade. Officials at the agency refused to comment.

Most neighbors interviewed said they knew little about the family.

"She was a nice person, very quiet, unassuming," said Charles Casey, a neighbor and community association president. "We never really saw them in social [settings]. We saw them in passing at the mailbox or shoveling snow."

Four months ago, Sara Raras filed for divorce, accusing her husband of beating her and threatening to kill their son, according to court papers. Lorenzo Raras denied the allegations and said he feared she was trying to "freeze" him out of his son's life.

In January, police said, they responded to the house for a domestic disturbance. They provided no details yesterday of that incident.

That same month, according to divorce papers, Sara Raras said she locked herself in the bedroom and fled after her husband threatened to kill her and their son. She said she asked police to remove guns and ammunition from the home.

On June 29, Sara Raras filed for a restraining order, alleging that her husband verbally abused her two days earlier when she told him she wanted to separate. Her husband grabbed the child and kicked her, she said in court papers. She said he left with the child.

Lorenzo Raras returned later that day without the child, she said, and threatened to take away her son if she didn't do as he "commanded." She picked up the child the next day.

In a July hearing on the restraining order, a Circuit Court judge ordered the couple to try to work out their differences and seek counseling. Both agreed.

But that same day, Sara Raras filed for a divorce, seeking full custody of the child, Lorenzo Williamson Raras.

Lorenzo Raras was allowed to see his son every other weekend. They traded the boy back and forth at an Ellicott City McDonald's restaurant.

The divorce papers also indicate that she feared Lorenzo Raras would take their son to the Philippines, where her husband's family has "significant financial interests, including a large home in Manila and farmland in surrounding areas." At one point, she said she had hidden her husband's passport for fear he would take the boy.

In a sworn affidavit, Lorenzo Raras described his limited visits with his son as "horrendous." He also said his wife sent notes telling him not to touch the child and that if the divorce was granted, she would make all decisions involving the child.

The couple were scheduled to appear in court Dec. 3 for a hearing on the divorce proceedings.

Pub Date: 11/17/98

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