Man held in rape of girl

Police find 24-year-old with criminal history hiding in relatives' home

8-year-old victim was stabbed

Suspect's mother says he is a `loving person' but has mental problems

April 24, 2002|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

A West Baltimore man with a history of criminal convictions and psychological problems was arrested yesterday and charged with raping and stabbing an 8- year-old girl Sunday morning during a break-in at a Pimlico rowhouse.

Acting on an anonymous tip, police found Tamar Ocu "Red Man" McCullough, 24, hiding under clothes piled beneath a cellar staircase in a home in the 2700 block of Beryl Ave. in East Baltimore. He was arrested without incident at 11:15 a.m. and was being questioned late yesterday afternoon.

Members of McCullough's family, interviewed yesterday by The Sun, described McCullough as a former church choir member and Boy Scout who often volunteered to help paint homes and churches around his Edmondson Village neighborhood. But they said he has battled psychological problems and illegal use of the drug Ecstasy.

"My heart goes out to the little girl who was attacked," said Gloria Westry, McCullough's mother. "I can understand what that family is going through because I have five daughters. My son comes from a good background, raised with good morals. It's hard for me to believe he could do this."

McCullough, an unemployed laborer whose last known address was in the 3900 block of Flowerton Road, is accused of breaking into a rowhouse in the 3300 block of W. Belvedere Ave. and using a kitchen knife to stab the child, police said. The girl lives in Columbia but was visiting her father at the house.

Her condition was upgraded from serious to fair yesterday at Sinai Hospital.

The girl's father had been taking his live-in girlfriend to work and was not home at the time of the attack, which occurred before 9 a.m. Sunday. Police said the child was cut at least four times around her neck - including a wound that nicked her jugular vein.

A tip led officers to the house on Beryl Avenue, said Officer Sheri Albrecht, a city police spokeswoman.

"He was seeking refuge at the house because he had some distant relatives there," Albrecht said. "The occupants of the residence were cooperative with the police."

McCullough is charged with first- and second-degree rape, first- and second-degree attempted murder, numerous sex offenses, perverted practice, assault, reckless endangerment, carrying a deadly weapon, theft and burglary.

His mother said that she spoke to her son since his arrest and that he said he didn't do what he is accused of.

"I don't know what to believe," Westry said. "Tamar is not a violent person, but he had been treated for psychological problems that he had tried to get help for. Doctors used to tell him he was crazy and wouldn't treat him or give him any medication because he had no insurance."

In recent months, McCullough had been telling people that he believed parasites were crawling throughout his body, his mother said. At times, he has appeared to be suicidal, she said. "Nobody can believe he would do this because he is a sweet, loving person. If he did it, he couldn't have been in his right mind. Who could be, to do something like this?"

Westry said her son admitted to his sister two months ago that he had been heavily using Ecstasy.

McCullough had been released from the Maryland Division of Correction on Feb. 23 after serving a little over three months of a five-month sentence for attempted drug distribution and drug possession, said Leonard A. Sipes Jr., a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Court records for that case indicate that McCullough was taken to the city detention center's medical unit for a mental health screening and "suicide risk assessment."

McCullough also had finished serving a 15-month prison sentence Jan. 13, 2001, for convictions on auto theft, larceny and malicious destruction charges, Sipes said.

Court records show that McCullough also has convictions for possessing burglary tools and second-degree assault.

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