Towson couple die in apparent murder-suicide Husband was attorney for Spiro T. Agnew

November 18, 1998|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

A prominent Towson lawyer, who once wrung a letter of apology from Spiro T. Agnew, and his wife of 55 years were found dead in their garage yesterday in an apparent murder-suicide, police said.

George Wendell White Jr. and his wife, Elnor Louise White, both 83, were discovered shot to death at their home at about 9 a.m., said Baltimore County police spokeswoman Cpl. Vickie Warehime.

Two friends, who were not identified by police, found the door to the couple's townhouse in the first block of Coldwater Court open, Warehime said. When no one answered the door, the two walked through the house before finding the Whites in the garage.

Preliminary investigation suggested that Elnor White had died first, and police found a note at the home, Warehime said.

The news threw a long shadow across the Baltimore County legal community, where George White was known as a friendly colleague and a formidable courtroom opponent.

White, a founder of White, Miller, Kenny & Vettori in Towson, was a former president of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association. He practiced law until September, when his health began to fail, said fellow principal Jay D. Miller.

Miller said yesterday that White had represented Agnew when he was Baltimore County executive. "He chose not to go to D.C. with him," Miller recalled of Agnew's ascension to the vice presidency.

Agnew pleaded no contest later to tax evasion during his years in Maryland politics, and White was found guilty of no crime. Subsequently, Miller said, Agnew wrote a book that hinted that White had known of illegal activities while representing him.

Outraged, White sued -- and won. The book was withdrawn, and Agnew wrote him a letter of apology, which White kept.

"He was more proud of that letter than any case he ever won," Miller said yesterday.

Earlier this year, however, White became depressed, Miller said. He was diagnosed with shingles and Lyme disease, and ultimately decided to retire because he could not keep up with the demands of a law practice.

"Physically, it just depleted him," Miller said of White's struggle with illness.

Elnor White had severe osteoporosis, Miller said, and fear of further physical decline may have been a factor in the shootings.

"This wasn't murder -- it was an act of love," Miller said yesterday. "His tremendous fear was that both of them would be a burden on the family and end up in a nursing home. He left behind a lengthy note."

The Whites had two daughters and a son, according to Miller. One daughter and her husband own the Robert Morris Inn in Oxford; the other two live out of state, he said.

Pub Date: 11/18/98

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