Man charged as accessory to killings

Counts tied to shootings at Aberdeen store

May 06, 1999|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Harford County authorities have charged a Bel Air man as an accessory to murder in the aftermath of the March 1 killings of two Wawa convenience store workers in Aberdeen, saying he helped a man who has yet to be charged in the case.

Laidley Elphic, 23, was being held without bail in the Harford County Detention Center yesterday on charges that authorities say are related to the fatal shootings of Melissa Pennington, 18, and Nancy Atkinson, 31, both of Aberdeen.

Elphic is accused of aiding and abetting Waylon Tenoco Wesley, 26, of Havre de Grace, who is named in Elphic's indictment but has not been charged in the Wawa deaths. Wesley also was in custody yesterday, being held on $1.5 million bail on unrelated charges.

The charges against Elphic are the first public break in the killings, which rocked the tight-knit community of Aberdeen and drew an outpouring of support from friends and customers of the two popular convenience store employees.

The indictment does not specifically mention the Wawa case, but says that Elphic "did unlawfully, willingly and knowingly aid, harbor and assist Waylon Tenoco Wesley and did so knowing the said person to have committed the felony of murder."

Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly confirmed yesterday that Elphic's indictment stemmed from the Wawa case, but declined to say whether the other man named is the primary suspect in the slayings.

Assistant State's Attorney Vernon M. Gentile said the grand jury is considering the case, and other indictments could follow.

"We are staying really tight-lipped about this until the grand jury process is complete," Gentile said. "Obviously Mr. Elphic is not our main target or else we would not have just charged him with accessory after the fact."

The grand jury is set to meet again May 19.

Aberdeen police have released little information about the investigation except to say that they are pursuing several leads. They refused to give any additional detail yesterday.

"As far as we are concerned, this is still an ongoing investigation," said Capt. Kenneth Cox, spokesman for the Aberdeen Police Department. "We are referring all inquiries to the state's attorney's office because we would prefer to allow them to comment on the legal issues."

Elphic was indicted April 1 and was arrested April 6. The charging documents against him have been sealed.

Wesley has been in the Harford County Detention Center since March 21 on charges of burglary, robbery, armed robbery, malicious destruction and motor vehicle theft.

Court records show that Wesley is accused of breaking into a Havre de Grace home with three other people and holding several people in the home at gunpoint before robbing them. In a letter to the clerk of the court dated April 20, Wesley requested a bail reduction hearing. That hearing has yet to be scheduled.

The killings of the two women shocked the Aberdeen community. Wawa closed the store temporarily after the incident and offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of anyone connected to the case. The store has reopened.

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