Assault on bay puzzles police

Marine officer back on duty

search for boat of assailants ends

January 15, 2001|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County police marine officer who said she was attacked while patrolling near Hart-Miller Island two months ago is back on the job, but authorities have been frustrated by the lack of new leads in the case.

Investigators have been unable to locate the red cigarette boat that Teresa M. Algatt, 26, said the two attackers were aboard the morning of Nov. 8 and have found no other evidence to bring them closer to an arrest.

Bill Toohey, county police spokesman, said the investigation is continuing and the incident is being treated as an attempted murder.

Algatt was found aboard her patrol boat on the Chesapeake Bay the morning of Nov. 8. Police said she was hit on the head when she climbed aboard an unregistered, 20- to 30-foot racing boat she had stopped.

She fell into the water, briefly lost consciousness, then climbed back into her boat and called for help, police said. By that time, the two men had sped off.

Algatt sustained head injuries and hypothermia during the incident, police said, and an unknown object had punctured her life vest. She was out of work for one month and underwent counseling, said Toohey. Algatt returned to work Dec. 18.

Coast Guard officials have expressed frustration over the search for the racing boat.

"A boat just doesn't disappear," said Lt. Rich Frattarelli, law enforcement officer for the Coast Guard's Baltimore station. "It was a fairly extensive search that we put on for that boat ... but conceivably they could sink it."

Toohey said the search for the boat has ended.

"Probably we are not going to find a red cigarette boat in the neighborhood anymore," he said. "It has not been found, and we are not going to continue searching."

Algatt reported seeing large duffel bags aboard the boat, which prompted concerns about possible drug trafficking on the Chesapeake Bay, similar to smuggling operations in the Caribbean.

But Toohey said recently "there has been no evidence" since the incident of "any organized drug trafficking or violence in the area."

When asked if police officials are confident that the attack took place as described, Toohey said that "all I am going to say is the matter is under investigation."

Algatt declined to comment on the investigation and referred questions to her Fraternal Order of Police lawyer.

Michael Marshall, a lawyer for FOP Lodge 4, said Algatt retained him after she heard allegations that some police officials did not believe her version of events.

"It is an insult to her and the FOP," Marshall said. "I do not see anything about this incident that raises any suspicion in my mind based on what I know. It is a tough job out there as a marine unit officer."

Toohey said investigators have "looked at her equipment, ... her boat and ... the injuries she has suffered."

They also have spoken to Cpl. David Wong, a police officer with the state Department of Natural Resources who saw Algatt a few hours before she reported being assaulted. Wong said investigators asked him whether Algatt had any noticeable injuries when she reported to work the morning of Nov. 8.

"She was fine," Wong said he told investigators. "She looked like it was just another workday."

Toohey said the questioning of Wong does not mean that investigators are skeptical of Algatt's story.

"It would be unwise to characterize an entire investigation based on some of the questions asked of one individual," Toohey said. "A thorough investigation requires exploring a number of areas."

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