Woman charged in deaths of two after house fire

Bodies of daughter, 3, boyfriend found after blaze in Turners Station

October 30, 1999|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

A woman whose handicapped daughter died in a Turners Station house fire this month was charged yesterday with killing her child -- and a man, whose decomposing body was found in a back room by firefighters.

Elva E. Reid, 41, was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Venice Nicole Reid, 3, and George Koval Sr., 62, police said.

Reid lived at 102 Calvin Hill Court with her daughter and a 7-year-old son who was injured in the Oct. 11 fire that swept through the two-story brick townhouse.

Koval, Reid's boyfriend, was a frequent visitor at the home, police and neighbors said, until he disappeared a month before the fire.

An autopsy performed on Koval determined that he had been dead for about three weeks before the fire, charging documents showed. The cause of death was "blunt force trauma," documents said. Venice Reid died of smoke inhalation from the fire, according to the documents.

"We have not determined a motive" for either death, said Baltimore County police spokesman Bill Toohey.

Detectives had not been able to interview Reid, who was seriously injured in the fire, until yesterday, he said. She remains hospitalized at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

But evidence described in the charging documents indicated that complaints from neighbors about the odor of Koval's decomposing body may have led to the setting of the fire. Authorities said it was started with a flammable liquid.

For a week or more before the fire, the documents said, Reid's next-door neighbors complained of a very strong odor in their furnace room -- "right next to the furnace room Mr. Koval's body was found in."

By Oct. 10 -- the day before the fire -- the neighbor was so disturbed by the odor that she told Reid "if she did not clean things up that night, she was going to the rental office first thing Monday morning," the documents said.

Reid responded, "I will take care of it tonight," according to the charging documents. The fatal fire occurred the next morning.

Charging documents also showed that Koval's roommate at his apartment in Columbia had reported him missing to Howard County authorities. Koval left the Columbia apartment on Sept. 20 to visit his girlfriend, the roommate told police.

The next day, the Columbia apartment was robbed of a color television, and the roommate began calling the Reid townhouse trying to reach Koval. Reid was evasive, according to the charging documents, and the roommate then reported Koval missing to the Howard County police.

Charging documents indicate that Reid pawned the stolen television on Sept. 21.

Reid and Koval were registered nurses, according to neighbors, who said she had moved into the townhouse near Avondale Road in March. Both had worked at Maryland General Hospital until recently, a hospital spokeswoman said. Koval left the hospital in August and Reid in September, she said.

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