Fugitive in three slayings shoots 2 more, police say

Carjack try in Chase sparks new rampage

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 half-hour rampage that included a carjacking and an elderly woman being handcuffed to her bed as her car was stolen, police say.

Late last night, state and county police and the FBI were searching for a white, 1987 Dodge Shadow with license plates 649 APT believed to be driven by 31-year-old Joseph Palczynski.

Last night's carnage began about 7: 40 p.m. and came nearly 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 Hare wood and Ebenezer roads in Chase.

Toohey said a husband and wife were in the car and the woman was shot. The husband rushed his wife to nearby Franklin Square Hospital; her condition was unknown last night.

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

About a half-mile away, the same man allegedly carjacked a Chrysler LaBaron, firing shots at the driver. He later ditched the LeBaron and stole the Dodge Shadow after forcing his way into the elderly woman's home in the 3700 block of Hilltop Road about 8 p.m.

The carjacker was in the company of a young woman at the time, police said, believed to be the girlfriend he abducted the night before.

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, 22-year-old Tracy Whitehead, had moved there Sunday, two days after she moved out of the apartment she shared with Palczynski, police said.

Whitehead 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 also 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, both 49, in a ground-floor apartment. Whitehead and Gloria Shenk had become friends through work.

Victims' son seeks help

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

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

"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 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 after he encountered Palczynski, police said.

Meyers' fiancee ran outside after him and found his body in the field.

"He died in my arms," Terry Conroy said yesterday, sobbing. "Dave was the type to help anyone out."

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.

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