Man held in two deaths

Husband charged in killings of wife, stepdaughter

Community shocked

Police find bodies in Overlea yard after receiving tip

April 27, 2001|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A Northeast Baltimore man was charged last night in the bludgeoning deaths of his wife and teen-age stepdaughter, police said.

Their bodies were found by police in the back yard of the family's home in Overlea.

Joseph E. Edmondson, 44, was arrested yesterday morning near Green Mount Cemetery, where officers found him riding in the back of a taxi, police said. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault. He also faces two deadly weapons charges.

He is being held at Central Booking and Intake Center, police said.

Police would not disclose what was used to beat Darnetta L. Edmondson, 44, and her daughter, Shauna Love, 15. However, officers were seen taking a baseball bat from the home.

Police said the victims were found about 1 a.m. after a relative of the suspect called and said there might be at least one body in the back yard of the house in the 4100 block E. Northern Parkway, two blocks from Belair Road.

Officers said they discovered Darnetta Edmondson's body in a garden. Love's body was found a short time later under a blue tarp near a rear deck. Police said they believe the killings took place between 9:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Relatives who were at the two-story, beige clapboard house declined to comment. Several neighbors described a tumultuous two weeks in which arguments between the couple spilled from the house to the front lawn.

"They would be outside on the porch yelling at each other," said Richard Hansen, 49, who lives across the street.

Police said they were checking records to see if they had been called to the house. Investigators said they believe the suspect argued with his stepdaughter before the slayings.

Residents who live near the house said the family moved in about a year ago, and they did not know them well. Edmondson drove a taxi for Jimmy's Cab Co. and his wife worked for the Rosen Group, a wholesale crafts company.

"Any crime like this is horrible, especially when a child is involved," said Frances diLorenzo, who has lived for two decades in the neighborhood, where police typically are seen only when car accidents occur on the busy, four-lane road. "She never had a chance to see what life was about."

Love was an honor student at Northern High School. She attended seventh grade at St. Michael's Archangel school in Overlea, about three blocks from her house.

She made friends right away. "She fit in real easily," said Bob Wuenschel, assistant principal at St. Michael's. "She had been there a week and it was like she had been there forever."

Jamie Huettar, 15, a friend of Love's at St. Michael's, said Love sometimes talked about arguments with her stepfather. Once, Huettar said, Love left to live with her aunt.

"I was shocked when I heard what happened," Huettar said yesterday, standing across the street from her friend's house, which was guarded by several officers and blocked with police tape.

According to court records, the Edmondsons had financial problems and had been sued several times, including for back taxes and credit card debts.

Love was Darnetta Edmondson's child from a previous marriage. The couple had two younger children, ages 2 and 4.

Investigators said that late Wednesday, Edmondson took the younger children out of the house. Police said they apparently did not witness the killings. Edmondson then went to a bar, police said, and met a relative, who called police about 1 a.m. -- the first time authorities were alerted to possible trouble.

Officers went to the house and found Darnetta Edmondson's body. Believing the killer might be in the house, officers cordoned off the property and called for a tactical unit.

A short time later, the relative called police again and told them a second body might be in the back yard, police said. Officers then found Love's body under the tarp.

Police said the husband dropped the toddlers off at another relative's house and went to the Washington area. Yesterday morning, he took a cab back to Baltimore.

About 6:45 a.m., police said, they got a tip that the husband possibly was in the area of East Preston Street and Greenmount Avenue, near Green Mount Cemetery. Officers pulled a cab over and took Edmondson into custody.

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