Police search two houses for evidence

Slain woman's mother-in-law in jail awaiting bail hearing

Suspect `a gentle woman'

Victim's husband, son move back into home where she was killed

August 26, 1999|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

One day after charging a Parkville woman in a plot to kill her daughter-in-law in Elkridge, Howard County police revisited the crime scene and searched the mother-in-law's house, looking to gather more evidence.

"Our investigation is continuing," said Lt. Stephen M. Prozeralik, who supervises the county's criminal investigations unit.

The woman and the Baltimore man she is accused of hiring for $5,000 to do the killing in November appeared separately for their initial appearances before a court commissioner yesterday. Both remain in jail; the victim's mother-in-law will appear for a bail review hearing this morning.

Sara J. Williamson Raras, 35, was stabbed several times and her throat was slashed at her home in the 6600 block of Meadowfield Court, Elkridge.

At the time, she was embroiled in what friends told police was a bitter divorce from her estranged husband, Lorenzo D. Raras, according to charging documents. Her then 1-year-old son was at her mother-in-law's house in Parkville at the time of the murder, those documents state.

The couple's child "held great significance" to the mother-in-law, the documents also said.

Police say they have not established a motive for the killing.

Officials charged Emilia Raras, 63, of the first block of Pearlwood Court, Parkville, Tuesday with solicitation to commit murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Ardale D. Tickles, 19, of the 1600 block of E. Northern Parkway, Baltimore, was charged with first-degree murder.

Lorenzo Raras, Emilia's son, declined to comment, except to say that he had not spoken to his mother since her arrest. He moved back to the Elkridge home he once shared with Sara Raras; that house was searched yesterday under a warrant obtained by police.

Emilia Raras' attorney, Carol James, also declined to comment.

Tickles was arrested in the Baltimore County Detention Center Tuesday morning, where he had been detained since April on charges of attempted first-degree murder and armed robbery in connection with a holdup at a McDonald's on Loch Raven Boulevard Jan. 11, said Cpl. Vicki Warehime, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County police. A warrant was issued for the armed robbery in March.

The case was postponed yesterday until Sept. 14. Assistant State's Attorney James O'C. Gentry Jr. asked for the delay after learning about an inmate informant who told police that Tickles talked to him about the robbery. Tickles was a former dishwasher at the restaurant, Gentry said.

Police say a man wearing a mask forced the manager into a back room to open the safe. The manager could not remember the combination, and the man shot him first in the calf, then in the leg. Finally, after being shot in his side, the manager remembered the combination and opened the safe, giving the man a few hundred dollars, Gentry said.

Police used the same informant and secretly taped a conversation with Tickles in June about the Raras killing, according to charging documents.

During that conversation, Tickles talked about how he committed the crime, said an "Oriental" woman asked him to commit the crime and asserted that he was paid $5,000 for doing so, the documents state.

Police say in charging documents that Tickles and Emilia Raras, who is Filipino, once worked at the same elder care center, and while there met and planned the killing.

Yesterday, neighbors described Emilia Raras as quiet, someone who kept to herself and to her family.

"They're not sociable," said Mary Jacobsen, a retiree who lives across the street from the Raras home in Parkville. The family has lived there at least 11 years. Yet, Jacobsen said, "None of them have ever spoken to me in all the years I've lived here."

Down the street, Joseph Sikorsky described Raras "as such a gentle woman."

Sikorsky said he did not know Emilia Raras well, but had chatted occasionally with her husband and discussed his daughter-in-law's death with him.

Former co-workers say Ardale Tickles was friendly and talkative.

Tickles worked for less than a year at Genesis Elder Senior Center in the 8700 block of Emge Road, Baltimore, according to Marilyn Fowler, who supervised him. He was hired to wash laundry, and usually worked during the day. Emilia Raras worked as a nurse at the facility, usually working during the evening.

"He was very dependable," said Fowler. "He was friendly to all types of persons" at the facility, and often talked about religion.

He was fired in January after not showing up for work for three days because he was detained in connection with the McDonald's robbery, Fowler said.

Fowler said she was "shocked" when she learned about the charges against Tickles.

Sun staff writers Joan Jacobson and Dail Willis contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 8/26/99

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