Man held in death of elementary teacher

Police say woman killed Saturday was a witness

January 13, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police have charged a man in the fatal shooting last year of an elementary schoolteacher and say the witness who helped detectives with the case has been killed.

Authorities said they are investigating a possible link between Saturday's shooting death of Candice Sharp, 18, and her cooperation and possible involvement in the Sept. 6 killing of William F. Crumel Jr., an art teacher at Highlandtown Elementary School.

Police Detective Scott G. Serio said Sharp knew the suspected gunman and had told detectives that she was present when Crumel was shot. "She was a witness, but she also was a co-conspirator, and more than likely would have been charged in connection with the homicide," Serio said.

Based on the woman's statements and fingerprints found in Crumel's Ford Mustang convertible, police said that on Monday they arrested Kenyatta Charles Ross, 21, of the 2500 block of Edgecombe Circle North, about two blocks from the homicide scene in Northwest Baltimore.

Ross, who police said has no prior criminal record, has been charged with first-degree murder and a handgun violation. He was being held without bail yesterday at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

The arrest comes a month after Crumel's parents visited the site of the homicide in the 4500 block of The Strand and made a tearful plea for help in finding a suspect in the killing of their 27-year-old son.

"Nothing will bring my son back," the victim's mother, Anita Crumel, said yesterday. "But [Ross'] arrest has lifted some of the burden, some of the pain."

Mrs. Crumel said her son had agreed to drive two people home the night he was killed and was robbed of just under $100 before he was shot -- money left over from two days of pay from the school system.

"They thought he had money," Mrs. Crumel said, adding that she also is dismayed about the death of the witness. "We deserve better than we are getting from the city," she said. "There are too many homicides here."

Crumel was found about 11 p.m. Sept. 6 in the driver's seat of his car, the top and windows up and the motor running. Police at the time said two people were seen running from the scene.

Court documents filed yesterday said detectives later located Sharp, who told them "she was the passenger in the front seat of the victim's vehicle when her friend attempted to rob the victim and shot the victim at least one time to the head."

But Serio could not match the fingerprints found in the car to anyone in the computerized data bank. Serio used Sharp's statement to obtain a search warrant for Ross' third-floor apartment, which included an order from a judge allowing police to take his fingerprints.

Serio said police searched the home about 5 a.m. Monday and took Ross to headquarters for questioning. Court documents said his fingerprints matched those found on Crumel's car, and Ross was charged.

"When interviewed, Mr. Ross offered no explanation for the presence of his fingerprints on the victim's vehicle and denied ever meeting the victim at any time or ever having met the victim under any circumstances," the court documents say.

No one answered the door at Ross' apartment yesterday. He had no lawyer present at yesterday's bail hearing.

Police said yesterday they could not say whether the Crumel and Sharp cases are linked. Sharp, who was between 12 and 14 weeks pregnant, was found shot in the head late Saturday in the 5600 block of Haddon Ave., in Northwest Baltimore.

The mother of two had lived in the 3300 block of Guilford Ave. Witnesses to her shooting told police they saw two men run from the area and get into a small dark car and drive away after arguing with Sharp.

Pub Date: 1/13/99

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