Baltimore policeman is a suspect in killing of ex-girlfriend last year

Her body was found in Cylburn Park

he is put on desk duty

April 13, 2000|By Peter Hermann and Tim Craig | Peter Hermann and Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore police officer is a suspect in the killing of his ex-girlfriend, whose body was found in a city park last year, and has been placed on desk duty without his gun and badge, police officials and other sources confirmed yesterday.

Officer Jay C. Harris, 29, has not been charged with a crime. His lawyer said yesterday that his client "has already cooperated with the police and will continue to cooperate in any fair and reasonable way he can."

Homicide detectives have been working since September on the case of Raquel L. Workman, 25, who was reported missing by her mother in August and was found dead a month later in Cylburn Park, off Greenspring Avenue. Police believe she was smothered.

The mother, Gale Patillo, has made impassioned pleas in letters to the governor, mayor and police commissioner, saying investigators are reluctant to make an arrest in the case and are covering up the crime.

Someone, she wrote, "has committed the perfect murder and it has been swept under the rug. No one wants to get his or her hands dirty or step on anyone's toes, but my child is dead."

Police have privately indicated that in the past several months they have come close to making an arrest but have delayed taking action after meeting with city prosecutors, who apparently felt their case was not strong enough.

Detectives will not comment on evidence they have gathered, saying only that they are diligently working to bring Workman's killer to justice.

"I'm sorry that Mrs. Patillo thinks we are covering something up," said Sgt. Berry L. Grant, a supervisor in the homicide unit. "You rarely come across a case where the victim is without an exception so highly loved by family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, everyone."

Harris, who has been on the force for three years, declined to comment through his lawyer, Michael J. Belsky, who released a brief statement yesterday.

"Mr. Harris steadfastly maintains his innocence regarding all allegations of any involvement in the tragic death of Raquel Workman," the statement says.

Prosecutors with the city state's attorney's office did not return phone calls to their office over the past two days.

Workman, who was a valedictorian in her graduating class at Northwestern High School in 1992, had dated Harris since 1995 and had lived with him at the Green Meadows Apartment complex on Clarinth Road in North Baltimore since 1997.

Patillo said her daughter broke off an engagement in April 1999 and returned a half-carat diamond ring.

Workman was discovered missing Aug. 19, the day she missed a planned flight to Atlantic City, N.J.

Her mother drove to the apartment and used a spare key to get inside. Rain was gushing through an open window. Leftover food and unwashed dishes were in the sink. Chocolate chip cookies were left uncovered. A heap of clothing lay at the foot of Workman's unmade bed.

"Once I came into her apartment I knew something was not right," Patillo said. "I said `I need to call and get some help.' "

Police found Workman's day planner near Reisterstown Road Plaza shopping center Sept. 4. Her 1999 metallic blue Nissan Altima was found parked at the Townhouse Motel, also on Reisterstown Road, on Sept. 7. Her body was found in the city park two weeks later.

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