Syringe in arm, man terrorizes neighbors, collapses, later dies

August 03, 1999|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,SUN STAFF

Police are investigating the death of a 37-year-old man with a syringe in his arm who terrorized neighbors in South Baltimore on Sunday night.

Ralph R. Cornish, of the first block of Talbott St. in Brooklyn, died about 8: 30 p.m. at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, Sgt. Douglas Baumgarten of the Southern District.

According to Baumgarten, Cornish broke into a house in the 3800 block of Leadenhall St. about 7: 30 p.m. and assaulted Catherine Handschuh, then fled when her husband, Charles, chased him away.

Baumgarten said residents saw Cornish, with a syringe stuck in his arm, run down an alley to a house in the first block of Bristol Ave., about a block from the Handschuh dwelling, and with his right arm shattered at least seven windows to gain entry to a glass-enclosed front porch, Baumgarten said.

James Harold, a resident, was watching television when he heard glass breaking, Baumgarten said. Harold opened his front door and was chased back into the house by Cornish, whose right arm was bleeding heavily.

Baumgarten said Cornish, who was demanding money, chased Harold throughout the first floor before he collapsed. Harold, who was uninjured, called police.

"The porch and much of the first floor of Mr. Harold's house had blood all over the place," Baumgarten said.

He said the syringe, nearly full of suspected heroin, was recovered at the scene.

Baumgarten said Cornish was revived briefly by an ambulance crew before he was taken to Shock Trauma, where he died.

Catherine Handschuh was treated at Mercy Medical Center for minor injuries, Baumgarten said.

An autopsy was scheduled today to determine if Cornish bled to death or died from a possible heroin overdose.

Staff writer Gary Dorsey contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 8/03/99

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