Link sought in 1996 deaths

Baltimore woman, two female hikers were killed in Virginia

April 12, 2002|By Greg Garland, Julie Bykowicz and Andrea Siegel | Greg Garland, Julie Bykowicz and Andrea Siegel,SUN STAFF

Virginia authorities are seeking clues that could link the man accused this week of killing two female hikers to the 1996 slaying of a Baltimore woman, Alicia Showalter Reynolds, in that state.

Asked if Darrell David Rice was considered a suspect in the Reynolds slaying, spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said the Virginia State Police "does not publicly release lists of suspects. However, we do look at each individual realistically. I guess you can say this individual has not been ruled out."

She added, "I can't say that we have officially linked these cases at this point. We still have a long way to go."

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors charged Rice, who has lived at various Baltimore-area locations, with the slayings in 1996 of hikers Julianne Williams and Laura Lollie Winans in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, and said they would prosecute the case as a hate crime. Rice, who is imprisoned on an unrelated kidnapping charge, told authorities the women deserved to die because they were lesbians, according to court documents.

The bodies of Williams, 24, of St. Cloud, Minn., and Winans, 26, of Unity, Maine, were found bound and gagged June 1, 1996, at a campsite about a half-mile off the Appalachian Trail.

The body of Reynolds, a Johns Hopkins University graduate student and Baltimore resident, was found in Lignum, Va., on May 7, 1996, two months after she accepted a ride from a man in a dark Nissan pickup truck who had convinced her something was wrong with her car. She had been driving on U.S. 29 in the Culpeper area, about 20 miles east of the park.

`Route 29 stalker'

Virginia authorities have other unsolved cases in the area along U.S. 29. The man in those incidents, known as the "Route 29 stalker," allegedly flagged down two dozen female motorists near Culpeper.

And one year after Reynolds' death, Kristin and Kati Lisk, ages 15 and 12, were found dead after they were abducted from their home in rural Spotsylvania County, Va. Witnesses said they were abducted by a man driving a white Ford F-150 truck.

Reynolds' mother speculated at the time that the girls' killer might have been the same person who killed her daughter.

Caldwell would not say whether Virginia State Police have questioned Rice in connection with the slaying of Reynolds.

She said state police were pleased by the indictment in the Williams-Winans slaying. "However, it doesn't mean we've come any closer to solving the Reynolds case," she said.

Rice's grandmother, Ruth Hamilton, who lives in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Baltimore, said yesterday that she has not seen her grandson in years.

But Hamilton, 84, said she remembers him as a nice boy and does not believe the charges against him.

"I don't know anything about what has happened to him," she said, adding that she has little communication with Rice's mother, Lenna M. Rice. Hamilton said Lenna Rice and her children, Darrell and a sister, lived with her for a short time in Baltimore when the children were in elementary school. They had moved to Maryland from Florida, she said.

Rice, 34, has been held in federal prisons for several years, after pleading guilty to an abduction charge in which he was accused of verbally and physically assaulting a female bicyclist in the Shenandoah National Park.

Drug-related arrests

He also has several arrests and convictions in the Baltimore area, mainly in drug-related cases.

Rice and two co-defendants faced drug charges stemming from a police raid on an Annapolis home in 1993.

According to records in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, Rice, then unemployed and living in Chesapeake Beach, was charged in July 1993 with possession with intent to distribute about 75 tabs of LSD and some marijuana, and two related charges. He pleaded guilty in November 1993 to drug possession.

Two weeks before his February 1994 sentencing, he tested positive for marijuana use. Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. sentenced him to a six-month sentence, but suspended it in favor of five years of probation and a $500 fine.

In June 1994, probation officers asked a judge to return Rice to court because he tested positive twice for marijuana, and in July a warrant was issued.

In November 1994, Rice pleaded guilty to violating probation, and Thieme sentenced him to a six-month sentence, suspended in favor of 40 hours of community service. His probation continued.

Less than two years later, in February 1996, probation officers told Thieme that Rice, at that time living in Annapolis, tested positive for marijuana use and had admitted using the illegal substance over the holidays.

They told him to return to a drug abuse program he completed in 1994 and did not request court action.

Rice appears to have lived in Columbia from about 1997 until the time he was jailed on the abduction charge in 1998. He lived on Brook Way in an apartment complex called Hannibal Grove, which is minutes from the The Mall in Columbia.

During that time, Rice came into contact with the Howard County Police Department three times - all for traffic stops in April and May of 1997, according to court records.

Howard cases reviewed

Howard County police re-examined files from the traffic stops for unsafe lane changes and found nothing unusual about the stops, spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said. Police are reviewing the county's unsolved homicides from the past decade to see if any fit with Rice's alleged actions, Llewellyn said.

Maryland court records also show that Rice received a suspended sentence and two years probation from an Eastern Shore judge in 1987 for a drug possession charge in Ocean City.

In 1992, drug and paraphernalia charges against him in Anne Arundel County were dropped, according to the records.

Sun staff writers Amanda Crawford and Jamie Smith Hopkins contributed to this article.

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