In 15 killings, 1 case remains

Police say '02 closure rate compares well with area

Homeless man killed in October

Anne Arundel

January 03, 2003|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Of the 15 homicides in Annapolis and the rest of Anne Arundel County last year, police closed or made an arrest in all but one - the October death of a homeless man in the state capital.

The homicide and closure rates mirror those of recent years in a county where the number of violent crimes is much lower than in the major cities nearby.

"We compare very well with what borders us," said Sgt. David Waltemeyer, who supervises the county's homicide unit. "Hopefully, law enforcement here has something to do with our low numbers."

Baltimore, which shares a border with Anne Arundel, posted 253 homicides last year, and Washington's homicide total was 262, according to spokesmen for the police departments.

Prince George's County, which also borders Anne Arundel, had 136 homicides last year, and Anne Arundel's northwestern neighbor, Howard County, which is roughly half its population, had seven homicides last year.

Waltemeyer supervises five homicide detectives, who investigated 11 cases last year, two more than in 2001 and 2000, according to crime statistics.

Annapolis does not a have a homicide unit, but eight criminal investigators there have tackled four homicides - the same number as in 2001 and twice as many as in 2000.

When investigating a major violent crime, such as the fatal carjacking in September in the city's historic district, Annapolis police are sometimes assisted by other agencies.

Straughan Lee Griffin, 51, was shot and run over as his Jeep Grand Cherokee was stolen from his driveway in Annapolis' historic district.

Aided by the FBI and the state's attorney's office, Annapolis police arrested two teen-agers - Leeander Jerome Blake and Terrence Tolbert, both of the 1300 block of Tyler Ave. - about a month later. Both were indicted in November on first-degree murder charges, but no trial date has been set.

Another fatal shooting, in Glen Burnie, happened less than two weeks after the start of last year. Laverne Browning, 70, and her daughter-in-law, Tamie Browning, 36, were killed and placed in the trunk of the younger Browning's white sedan.

Police charged Kenneth E. Abend, 40, with two counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, and a four-week trial is scheduled to begin in late July.

And a deadly shooting, this one in April, was closed with an arrest within an hour after 16-year-old Dan Allen Johnson Jr. was fatally wounded in Annapolis. Two teen-agers, Charles Nathaniel Allen and Larry Eugene Adams were charged with first-degree murder.

The county's second double fatality last year was the apparent murder-suicide in Brooklyn Park in August of Floyd Ray Lilly, 64, a former Baltimore police officer, and his wife, Charlene Emma Lilly, 46. Police say he shot her before killing himself.

Authorities say several other homicides last year appear to have stemmed from domestic disputes.

The same September day police found the body of Paula Lynn Edwards, 34, in the woods in Edgewater, they arrested her estranged boyfriend, Howard Alexander Jr., 33, and charged him with first-degree murder. No court action has been scheduled in that case.

A Baltimore woman was killed in June after being intentionally run over with a minivan in a Brooklyn Heights church parking lot. Police arrested Charles Linwood Page, 41, and charged him with killing his wife, Valerie Robinson, 38.

The county's final homicide last year was the stabbing death in November of Holly Jean Keefe, 34, whose body was found in a trash bin behind a home on Richfield Drive in Severn.

Police arrested Byron Alonzo Huff, 37, who was believed to have been taking drugs with Keefe just before she was killed, and charged him with first- and second-degree murder and first-degree assault. A grand jury indicted him Dec. 20.

A Glen Burnie man was sentenced to 30 years in prison in November after he pleaded guilty to stabbing to death his father Fred Charles Grierson, 62, last January. Charles Martin Grierson, 27, was so high on PCP, police said, that he didn't know for days what he had done.

Two apparent neighbor disputes last year yielded quick arrests.

Police found the body of Michael Todd Jefferson Jr., 22, of Severn in February in a business complex in Hanover. Officers later arrested his next-door neighbor, James Edward Belcher, 33, who was indicted in May for the man's fatal stabbing.

In a similar case, police arrested Patrick Robert Aldridge, 28, charging him with the June death of his neighbor, Cleadis Bruce Barnes, 50, who was found beaten to death in the front yard of Barnes' Defense Highway home.

Although most of last year's homicide investigations yielded swift closures, Waltemeyer, a former detective who has supervised the homicide unit for three years, said child-abuse homicides again proved the most puzzling.

"Those tend to be the most challenging cases because there are multiple caregivers," he said.

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