Manager, relatives charged in killing of restaurant owner

Pepe's owner killed during attempted robbery, police say

July 06, 2000|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

For 20 years, Pepe's Pizza owner Peter Makris treated Martin L. Hoffman Jr., the manager of the business, like a son. He let Hoffman live above the shop rent free and lent him money whenever he needed it. Last month, family members said, he helped pay for Hoffman's father's funeral.

Yesterday, Baltimore County police charged Hoffman, his brother and his brother's wife in the fatal stabbing of Makris.

Makris' body was found Monday morning inside the business. Police were called to the scene by Hoffman, who told dispatchers that Makris, 72, appeared to have suffered a heart attack.

However, police say that Hoffman and his brother, Michael J. Hoffman, conspired to rob the combination restaurant and carryout business in the 6000 block of Falls Road. They say that Martin Hoffman supplied the key and his brother killed Makris during the robbery.

Martin Hoffman, 38, his brother, 35, and his brother's 19-year-old wife, Jennifer, are charged with first-degree murder. Michael and Jennifer Hoffman live in the 100 block of Roosevelt Road in Sykesville. The suspects are being held without bail.

The charges shocked relatives and colleagues.

"They treated [Martin] like one of their own kids. He didn't have a family to help him," said Sarandos Makris, 67, Peter's brother. "My brother was killed by people he loved and helped."

Yesterday, family members and employees placed candles and flowers at the spot where Makris' body was found. Relatives said that he supported Hoffman despite a criminal record that included charges of arson, burglary and assault.

Martin Hoffman has worked at Pepe's Pizza for 20 years, and for the past five years lived above the business.

Makris' son-in-law, Nick Karey, said Hoffman "was just a kid when he started working here. [Makris] took care of him."

But Peter Makris, a Baltimore resident, was suspicious of Michael Hoffman, who had a record that included charges of drug possession and theft, kicking him off the property several times, said Michael Makris, 56, another brother.

"He took [Martin] out of jail once," he said. "He trusted him [even though] he stole money from him."

Peter Makris' life centered on his business. He would go to work at 2 a.m. every day and begin preparing food. He arrived Monday apparently expecting to do the same thing. Employees said he never got the chance.

According to charging documents, Michael Hoffman used a key supplied by his brother to enter the restaurant. Once inside, the documents say, he gathered cash from several locations . During the robbery, the documents say, Michael Hoffman encountered Makris and stabbed him.

Police say that Michael Hoffman knocked on his brother's door about 4 a.m. to return the key to the restaurant. Authorities also say Michael Hoffman dropped off several thousand dollars, which police later found in a bedroom in the apartment.

Jennifer Hoffman drove to the restaurant with her husband and was sitting in the car during the robbery and stabbing, according to charging documents. Michael Hoffman returned to the car and "showed her a large amount of U.S. currency," the documents say.

Police spokesman Bill Toohey would not say whether the knife in the attack was recovered.

Family members said funeral services for Makris will be held tomorrow. Pepe's Pizza will remain closed until Monday.

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