Girl, 16, is stabbed to death Attack comes near teen's home in East Baltimore

Man demanded money

Victim, best friend were on their way to nearby drugstore

November 22, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

A 16-year-old girl walking with her best friend to a Rite Aid near her East Baltimore home Friday night was stabbed to death after a man grabbed her, demanded money and dragged her into a weedy, vacant lot, city police said.

Toni Bullock managed to run out onto the 1300 block of N. Central Ave. after being stabbed several times in the chest about 8:35 p.m., said Baltimore homicide Detective William F. Ritz. She yelled for help, then collapsed on the street.

She died at Johns Hopkins Hospital at 9:20 p.m., Ritz said. Her neighbor and friend, Tyeisha Powell, 17, was not hurt. She ran and called 911 when Bullock was attacked about a block from Rite Aid. Ritz said the man was gone by the time police arrived.

"They were just going to the Rite Aid to get women's personal need things," said Dorothy Logan, Tyeisha's mother. "I said to them what I say all the time, 'Be careful and come straight back,' and that's what they were doing."

Logan said the girls, best friends for the past three years, set out for the store from their homes near Johnston Square at 8:25 p.m. She said they did not know Toni's attacker.

The teens were walking along the 1300 block of Harford Road when a man in his mid-20s approached and grabbed both of them by the arm, Ritz said.

"He asked for money," Ritz said. "He told them to shut up or he'd hurt them, then he let go of one of the girls."

Ritz said Tyeisha ran to a friend's home and called 911 before coming back to check on Toni. By then, Ritz said, the man had dragged Toni into a lot overgrown with weeds and unkempt grass a block from the drugstore and stabbed her.

Toni freed herself and ran, with the man chasing her. "She was yelling and screaming, causing a commotion and drawing attention to the street," Ritz said. At that point, the man fled.

Combing the girl's neighborhood yesterday, where people talked each other in hushed tones about the attack, police could not find the murder weapon, Ritz said. He said the man did not take any money from her.

"We are not ruling out sexual assault as a possible motive," Ritz said. "He was not dragging her into that lot just to talk to her. He was either trying to rob her or sexually assault her."

Ritz said the man was black, about 5-feet-10 or 5-feet-11, with dark brown eyes and a slight beard. He was wearing a black, waist-length puffy jacket, a red T-shirt and blue jeans.

"I believe this guy lives in the [Johnston Square] neighborhood," Ritz said.

Mary Sterrett, 32, who lives on North Central Avenue, said she was home when the attack occurred but did not hear anything until a neighbor knocked on her door, asking her to call 911.

"I came out and I saw a girl lying in that gutter," Sterrett said, pointing to a spot on the street just outside her front door.

Sterrett said neighbors gathered around Toni -- one put a towel over her wounds while others prayed and talked to her.

"We told her not to move," Sterrett said. "We said, 'Don't leave us, hang in there, wake up' ... my younger sister had just left the house half an hour earlier. It could have been her. My mother was coming home at that time. It could have been her. It could have been any of us."

Odessa Freeman, 37, said she had felt their neighborhood was relatively safe before Friday night.

"I send my kids to the store at night sometimes, too," Freeman said. "But I won't send them no more."

In the cozy living room of the home Toni shared with her mother, Darlene Stokes, her older sister, Maria, and two nieces, Toni's grandmother, aunts and cousins recounted stories. The 11th-grader at Carver Vocational-Technical High School had aspired to be an accountant, they said.

"I'm angry because she had no kids, she was going to school, she was really trying to make something of herself and someone just took her life," said her cousin Cheryl Bullock, 22.

Her family said she was a typical fun-loving teen-ager who was popular with boys and enjoyed shopping, going to movies and taking pictures of herself and friends.

They said Toni often walked to Rite Aid but had always made it home safely.

Police are asking anyone with information on Toni Bullock's death to call 410-396-2100.

Pub Date: 11/22/98

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