Man sought in homicide fatally shot by police

Baltimore County officers find suspect in death of ex-girlfriend in Harford

September 11, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

A 20-year-old Middle River man, charged with killing his 18-year-old former girlfriend in Middle River, was fatally shot by Baltimore County police in an exchange of gunfire last night near a trailer park in Harford County.

Officers had been searching for Steven Wade Honeycutt, who had been charged in a warrant with first-degree murder after they found his former girlfriend, Jessica Leah Dobry, bludgeoned to death in her bedroom at 9:30 a.m. Honeycutt was seen leaving Dobry's townhouse with their 2-year-old son, said Cpl. Ron Brooks, a police spokesman.

It was unclear last night how many times Honeycutt, of the first block of S. Hawthorne Road, fired at officers or how many times he was shot by police, who set up a barricade on Perryman Road near a trailer where he was hiding, said Ginger Rigney, a spokeswoman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the shooting.

FOR THE RECORD - An article yesterday in some editions incorrectly identified the Harford County trailer park where a murder suspect was fatally shot by Baltimore County police. The suspect, Steven Wade Honeycutt, was killed in the Busby Mobile Home Community in Perryman. The Sun regrets the error.

Honeycutt first tried to get around police. But once he saw that both ends of the rural road near the trailer park were blocked, Rigney said, Honeycutt went to the trunk of his car, pulled a shotgun and began firing. Baltimore County police returned fire, she said.

At least six plainclothes detectives from the criminal investigations division had converged on Honeycutt as he left a relative's trailer in Bugsby Mobile Home Community about 7 p.m. They had staked out the trailer since about 4 p.m., Rigney said.

The 2-year-old boy was found unharmed in the mobile home, Brooks said.

Dobry's body was discovered by her boyfriend, police said. The couple and her child lived in a brick duplex in the first block of Oak Grove Drive, police said.

Dobry had sought protection from Honeycutt this summer, court records show.

Neighbor Brandy Robinson, 31, said she saw Honeycutt leave Dobry's house yesterday morning, looking nervous and appearing in a hurry. Not long afterward, Dobry's boyfriend came out of the house screaming. The boyfriend, trying to avoid a confrontation with Dobry's former boyfriend, went to the basement to sleep while Honeycutt came by to drop off the child, friends said.

"He just flew down the stairs," said Christine Robinson, 15, who lives nearby. "He was yelling, `Jessie's dead.' He was totally freaking out. He was so upset. I feel bad for him, for everyone. She was a sweet girl. She did everything for everybody."

Friends said Dobry worked two jobs-one waiting tables at a Denny's - to take care of her son, Christian.

They also described a tumultuous relationship between her and her former boyfriend. There were frequent fights, they said. And Christine Robinson, Brandy Robinson's daughter, said Dobry once confided that Honeycutt had threatened her. "He couldn't take that she was with someone else," Christine Robinson said.

Dobry filed for a ex parte, or restraining, order in May, writing that Honeycutt had punched, hit and shoved her. She described violence that began in March - a month after Honeycutt moved out.

In March, Dobry wrote, Honeycutt had kicked in her door. In May, she said that he cut up her clothes and broke the windshield of her car. She also wrote in the ex parte petition that he "threatened to kill himself if I didn't let him move back in."

She said that he had access to shotguns and asked the judge to order him to stay away from her house and the Denny's and Blockbuster where she was working, court records show.

In early May, Dobry said in the document, Honeycutt followed her and her boyfriend, John, and attacked them at a stoplight near their house. "I got out and pulled [Honeycutt] off. Then he grabbed my arm and left bruising - all while my 2-year-old son was in the backseat."

The protective order expired in June. Honeycutt, a landscaper, retained his visitation rights. He had their son Monday night and was supposed to return him to Dobry yesterday morning, Brooks said.

Relatives declined to comment on the killing. Dobry's parents were called home from an Ocean City vaction.

They did not know she had been killed until after they pulled up at her home, not far from their own, where detectives, relatives and friends were waiting to tell them the news.

Dobry's killing is the 21st homicide in the county - the fifth in the past 12 days. Last year at this time, Brooks said, 19 homicides had occurred.

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