Jailed man charged in `no body' homicide case

Police believe suspect's accomplice was killed after holdup attempt

November 08, 1999|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

The evidence against Frederick Surguy, charged with killing Leonard Lacy after a botched Dundalk holdup, includes a blood sample and witnesses who allegedly heard him confess. But the case is missing the most obvious evidence: a body.

In what appears to be Baltimore County's first "no body" homicide case, Assistant State's Attorney S. Ann Brobst hopes to prove that Surguy killed Lacy in 1994 and dumped his body in the Chesapeake Bay, after they tried to hold up two men.

Surguy, a 37-year-old Fort Howard man in prison for an unrelated armed robbery, has been indicted on first-degree murder and other charges relating to a botched holdup June 14, 1994.

Lacy's sister reported last seeing him that day. Divers searching recently in the Chesapeake Bay found no trace of him.

Having no body creates unusual challenges for police and prosecutors, but the recent highly publicized Delaware case against lawyer Thomas Capano for murdering his secret lover proves it can be done.

A judge gave Capano the death penalty in March for murdering Anne Marie Fahey and dumping her body in the ocean. Although her body was never recovered, Capano's brother testified he saw a foot sink into the sea.

In addition to proving Surguy's guilt, Brobst will have to "establish as part of proof that the victim died by criminal means, not accident or suicide," said Edward A. Tomlinson, law professor at the University of Maryland.

Brobst acknowledged that "with no body you have no medical examiner testifying on the cause of death."

But she said county police have enough evidence to prove Lacy is dead and that he spent his last day with Surguy trying a holdup at a bank parking lot, where both were wounded during a shootout with two intended victims.

She said police believe Surguy, who was indicted Oct. 25, killed Lacy to avoid taking him to a hospital for treatment of a back wound because Surguy figured they would be caught by police in the emergency room.

Brobst declined to say whether Surguy has made statements to police admitting to the killing, but she said several witnesses might testify that Surguy confessed to them.

He is in state prison serving a five-year sentence for an armed robbery that is unrelated to the 1994 case.

A lawyer for Surguy could not be reached to comment.

Brobst said evidence at the trial, a date for which has not been set, will show that Surguy has scars from a gunshot wound to his arm from the 1994 shootout. His blood was found in a van after the holdup, she said.

As part of the case, she said, she and Assistant State's Attorney Dean Stocksdale will show they believe Lacy is dead because he has not contacted his family and that his steady criminal record stopped after his disappearance.

The last evidence of a criminal record against Lacy, who was 38 when he disappeared, shows he had forgery and theft charges dismissed in 1993.

Lacy's family finds news of Surguy's indictment an odd sort of relief.

"I've been crying for four years," said his sister Adell Neal. "We looked for him. We didn't know what to think at first."

Her brother's disappearance, she said, was completely out of character. "He didn't have his wallet or his Bible," she said.

Neal and another sister, Patricia Murrell, said that although their brother had been in trouble with the law, "he was a good person," with close family ties.

With an indictment in his death, said Murrell, "now we can see everything is starting to fall in place."

Lacy's 25-year-old daughter, Marilyn Lacy, said she wished police had done a better job searching for her father when he was reported missing in 1994.

"If they had acted sooner,they would have had a body," she said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.