Police seeking information in fatal carjacking

2 federal agencies assist local officials

description of assailants is sketchy

September 24, 2002|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Eight Annapolis detectives, assisted by two federal agencies and the county police, combed through evidence yesterday and urged the public to come forward with information that might lead to an arrest in Thursday's fatal carjacking in the city's historic district.

Straughan Lee Griffin, 51, was shot once in the head and run over as two men, for whom police have vague descriptions, fled in his 2000 Jeep Cherokee. It was the first killing in the historic district in two decades.

Despite the amount of staff assigned to the case, the dozen witnesses interviewed and the half-dozen tips called in during the weekend, police had no solid leads yesterday, said Officer Hal Dalton, a spokesman for the Annapolis Police Department.

A key problem is that no one has been able to provide police with a good description of the assailants, Dalton said.

In the hope that one of the many surveillance cameras attached to nearby state buildings might have caught the assailants on tape, detectives are trying to collect and study as much footage from that day as possible, Dalton said.

"It's a task," he said. "And of course it's going to take a while to get it all."

By 9 a.m. Friday, police had located Griffin's dark-gray Jeep - parked and empty outside an apartment complex on Raindrop Court in Glen Burnie. Police have not established a link between the crime and the area where the vehicle was abandoned.

"We're looking for a witness to come forward who may have seen somebody in or around the car," Dalton said.

Detectives recovered evidence from the Jeep, Dalton said, although he would not give any details.

Assisted by the FBI, the U.S. attorney's office and county police, the Annapolis Police Department has assigned its entire detective unit - eight officers - to the investigation.

The Baltimore division of the FBI assigned an agent to the case Friday, said spokesman Barry A. Maddox. Although Annapolis will remain the lead investigator, the FBI can provide national resources, such as the FBI crime lab, and help facilitate communication with other agencies, said Maddox.

"We'll work with them to determine what needs to be done," he said.

On Friday, Mayor Ellen O. Moyer and a few members of the city's crisis intervention team met with a group of distraught friends who had gathered at Eastport Yacht Club to plan Griffin's memorial service.

"So many members were close friends to the gentleman, and it was such a shock," said Tony Spencer, the city's coordinator of community and social programs.

Police officers and social workers met with a number of residents from Griffin's neighborhood Saturday night to talk about safety and the need to form a neighborhood watch.

Eastport Yacht Club is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of Griffin's killers.

Linda Hughes, the yacht club's long-range planning chairwoman and a friend of Griffin's, said she expects the reward to increase in coming days.

"We wanted to think of something we can do that's positive to get these people off the street," she said.

The Eastport Yacht Club will hold a tribute for Griffin at 5 p.m. Thursday at 317 First St. in Annapolis. The tribute is open to the public. Spencer said four counselors will be on hand.

During his morning local radio show yesterday, Dalton called the crime "an aberration."

Said Moyer of the slaying: "I think it has shaken up a lot of people."

Sun staff writer Amanda J. Crawford contributed to this article.

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