Escapee recaptured at cousin's funeral

June 03, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

An armed robber who escaped from the back of a prison van last week was captured yesterday when he showed up for his cousin's funeral, which was being staked out by FBI agents and Baltimore police.

Neil Davis, 20, was arrested about 11: 45 a.m. at March Funeral Home in the 1100 block of E. North Ave.

The FBI said he was attending the funeral of Howard Bernard Rice, 31, who was shot May 25 as he tried to escape a gunman by blending into a corner dice game. After Rice's death, city police said he had been a suspect in seven killings dating back to 1985. No arrests have been made in Rice's killing.

Davis escaped two days after his cousin was killed. Special Agent Peter A. Gulotta, an FBI spokesman, said authorities do not know whether the incidents are related.

Davis is serving a five-year sentence for armed robbery, handgun violations and drug possession. Police said he jumped out of the prison van at Aisquith and East Eager streets May 27 as he was being driven back to the Maryland Penitentiary from a court hearing.

Gulotta said authorities recognized Davis as Rice's cousin after seeing a newspaper article about the seven killings. Figuring he might attend the funeral yesterday, members of the FBI Fugitive Task Force waited in the parking lot.

About 11: 45 a.m., Gulotta said, a city police officer assigned to the task force saw Davis in the passenger seat of a car. He said Davis apparently saw the undercover officers and quickly got out.

Gulotta said Davis jumped a small wall in the funeral home parking lot "and right into the rest of the task force that was in place."

Police said Davis denied he was the escapee but was identified from fingerprints. He was charged yesterday with escape, which could add 10 years to his sentence.

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