Suspect in triple killing linked to 2 more shootings

Ex-girlfriend escapes

woman, baby wounded

March 09, 2000|By Kurt Streeter and Nancy A. Youssef | Kurt Streeter and Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

A man who killed three people Tuesday night in southeastern Baltimore County shot two more people -- one of them a baby -- last night during a rampage that included a carjacking and an elderly woman being handcuffed to her bed as her car was stolen, according to police.

At 2 a.m. today, the suspect remained at large.

Earlier, state, county and Baltimore police, and FBI agents, had fanned out for several miles from the El-Rich Motel in the 8200 block of Pulaski Highway, where the suspect -- 31-year-old Joseph Palczynski -- was believed to have holed up.

A search of the Rosedale motel failed to turn up Palczynski. However, two weapons,a pump-action shotgun and an assault rifle, were found near the scene in addition to a stolen getaway car.

About 11 p.m., Palczynski's hostage and former girlfriend, 22-year-old Tracy Whitehead, escaped unharmed. She had been kidnapped by the suspect during the triple murder the night before. Whitehead ran from Palczynski when she saw a police car on or near Pulaski Highway.

Last night's violence began about 7: 40, about 24 hours after three people were shot to death in Bowleys Quarters.

Police suspect Palczynski -- a convicted felon with a history of mental illness and domestic violence -- in all of the incidents.

While police nationwide were searching for Palczynski in connection with Tuesday night's killings of George Shenk, 49; his wife, Gloria Jean Shenk, 50; and David Meyers, 42, a bloody carjacking attempt was taking place at Harewood and Ebenezer roads in Chase.

Baltimore County police spokesman Bill Toohey said a husband and wife were in the car and the woman had been shot. The man rushed his wife to nearby Franklin Square Hospital; her condition was unknown last night.

"After that, there was mayhem on Ebenezer Road," according to Toohey, who said the would-be carjacker began shooting at passing cars in the 6800 block of Ebenezer Road, wounding a baby but missing the child's mother behind the wheel.

About a half-mile away, the same man allegedly carjacked a Chrysler LeBaron, firing shots at the driver. He later ditched the LeBaron and stole a white, 1987 Dodge Shadow after forcing his way into the elderly woman's home in the 5700 block of Hilltop Road about 8 p.m.

The Dodge was recovered at the El-Rich Motel.

On Tuesday night, two of the victims, a husband and wife, were killed in front of their child and grandchild in their Bowleys Quarters apartment. The third, a volunteer at Seneca Elementary School, was shot as he ran to the woman's aid, police said.

The shootings left neighbors rattled.

"It sounded like it was coming from right out there," said Lisa Dietrich, 28, pointing to her window of her White Pine Road apartment. "I heard a woman yell, `Oh my God! Oh my God!' Then I heard a guy say `He's been shot.' I was afraid to move."

Palczynski, of the 500 block of Carrollwood Road, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and a number of other charges in the killings, which occurred at Town & Country Bowleys Quarters Apartments.

His former girlfriend, Whitehead, had moved there Sunday, two days after she left the apartment she shared with Palczynski, police said.

Whitehead, 22, had filed assault charges against Palczynski on Saturday, alleging that he beat her and threatened to kill her. Palczynski was arrested by county police and released after posting a $7,500 bond.

Court records show that Palczynski, who has a history of mental illness, is on probation on charges of assault and obstruction of justice, stemming from a 1996 incident.

Whitehead had been living in Bowleys Quarters with George Shenk and his wife, Gloria, in a ground-floor apartment. Whitehead and Gloria Shenk had become friends through work.

According to charging documents, Palczynski arrived at the apartment about 8: 30 p.m. Tuesday with a shotgun and walked in through a sliding glass door.

Whitehead, the Shenks and their 12-year-old son and a 3-year-old granddaughter were watching television.

"Tracy, get up, you're going," Palczynski said, according to the documents. Gloria Shenk said something to Palczynski, and she and her husband were shot in front of the children, police said.

The Shenks' son ran to an upstairs neighbor for help.

"The boy came and said someone is shooting his mom and dad. He said his dad was dead, but that his mother was still moving," said Robert Brashears, 39, who lived above the Shenks.

"I was asking, `Do you know this guy?' And he said it was the boyfriend of the girl staying with them."

Palczynski left the apartment through the sliding door, police said, dragging Whitehead past another building in the complex to White Pine Road, where he had parked his light-blue 1996 Plymouth Voyager van.

David M. Meyers, 42, a tenant in the other building, heard a woman yelling, looked out the window to see what was wrong and ran outside to help.

Meyers was shot several times by Palczynski, police said.

County police sent a message to police departments nationwide, saying that Palczynski had severe psychological problems and that he is carrying 100 rounds of ammunition, a rifle and a shotgun.

Court records show Palczynski has a history of domestic violence and mental illness, dating to 1988, when he was convicted of battery for slapping and punching a 16-year-old girlfriend.

He is on probation for a 1996 conviction for battery and obstruction of justice for trying to intimidate a former girlfriend and her father after the woman filed charges, according to records in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Sun staff writers Lynn Anderson, Dan Thanh Dang and Joan Jacobson contributed to this article.

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