Call helped police find suspect

City officers alerted Arundel to possible injured landlady

Man jailed in Baltimore

Tenant charged in killings of two Glen Burnie women

January 17, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

After watching the Ravens game at a friend's house, Hector Silva returned to his South Baltimore rowhouse Sunday night to find that someone had broken his basement window. He was scared when he walked through the door, and he was only slightly relieved to recognize the man sitting in his living room as Kenneth Abend.

"He told me he needed to hide out for a few days," Silva said yesterday in his Brooklyn home, still shocked that within 24 hours after the encounter police were considering Abend a suspect in the shooting deaths of two Glen Burnie women.

"I asked him why he needed to hide," Silva said. "He said something about hurting his landlady, but then he wouldn't talk about it. I said, `Are you crazy?' He just wanted to know if I was going to call the police. I said I wouldn't."

Silva said he did just that, however, providing an important break for police, who were soon looking for two missing women. Their bodies were found in the trunk of a car.

Abend, a 39-year-old Glen Burnie man with a long history of drug arrests, is charged in the deaths of his landlady, Laverne May Browning, 70, and her daughter-in-law, Tamie Christine Browning, 36.

Abend remained jailed in Baltimore yesterday on charges of breaking into Silva's house in Brooklyn. Anne Arundel County authorities did not say when he would be returned to the county to face the murder charges.

Silva said Abend was only an acquaintance. He once rented a house from Abend's brother in Millersville and had seen Abend a few times over the years, he said.

Silva said his most recent encounter with Abend didn't last long. After the quick exchange in his living room, Silva said, he left Abend in the partly boarded-up two-story house. Silva said he ran up the block to a corner bar to call 911 and report a burglary in progress.

City officers arrived at Silva's house, in the 3700 block of Second St., and arrested Abend, charging him with fourth-degree burglary and possession of a deadly weapon, according to charging documents.

Police said they found a 5-inch hunting knife in Abend's pocket.

The officers also noted that Silva quoted Abend as saying he might have injured his landlady.

City police filed a report for Anne Arundel County police to follow up on, officials said.

As Abend was being taken to the city jail, Anne Arundel County police working the midnight shift early Monday were knocking on the door of a house on Broadview Boulevard that Abend had listed as his address.

Gladys M. Case, the homeowner and Abend's former landlady, was fine.

"He hasn't lived here in about four months," Case said in an interview.

Although Abend had rented a second-floor apartment in her house in Ferndale for nearly two years, she said, she asked him to leave after he started bringing over loud friends.

Until then, she said, "he was a good tenant. He brought around the trash cans for me and brushed snow off my car. I didn't know him well, though."

Later Monday morning, a county police spokesman said, officers were given Abend's name again, this time by a Glen Burnie man. Randy Browning reported that Laverne Browning, his mother, and Tamie Browning, his wife, were missing. Abend had rented a first-floor room from Laverne Browning for several months, her son told detectives.

Police found a pool of blood and shell casings at Laverne Browning's house, in the 200 block of Margate Road. Officers connected the information and quickly identified Abend as a suspect, police said.

Monday night, police were called by a woman who lives in the Gatewater Apartments in Glen Burnie to check on blood seeping from the trunk of an abandoned car. Police opened the trunk and found the missing women's bodies.

Within hours, Abend was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

According to preliminary autopsy reports, the women died of gunshot wounds and blunt force trauma to their upper bodies, said Lt. Joseph E. Jordan, the police spokesman. Police have released few details about the case, saying they are trying to interview potential witnesses.

Silva said he wouldn't be able to provide much more about his encounter with Abend.

"It's weird," Silva said. "I keep thinking he could've done something to me, starting tearing up the place or stabbed someone close to me," Silva said. "It's really shaken me up."

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