Grand jury indicts student in poisoning, teacher in sex assault

Howard panel returns charges in separate cases

January 30, 2003|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

An 18-year-old Centennial High School senior accused of fatally poisoning a friend by spiking his soda with cyanide and a Dundalk High School teacher accused of sexually assaulting a girl he met on the Internet were indicted yesterday in separate high-profile cases.

A Howard County grand jury returned an indictment charging first-degree murder, poisoning, felony assault and reckless endangerment against Ryan T. Furlough in the death Jan. 8 of Centennial senior Benjamin Edward Vassiliev.

Furlough, of the 3500 block of Rhode Valley Trail, Columbia, is accused of buying potassium cyanide over the Internet in October and placing it in Vassiliev's soda while the two were playing video games in Furlough's basement Jan. 3, according to charging documents. Vassiliev collapsed and was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital. He died five days later.

According to charging documents, Furlough was romantically interested in Vassiliev's girlfriend. He had begun fantasizing about killing himself and Vassiliev in October, according to the documents.

The grand jury also returned an indictment on charges of attempted second-degree rape, third-degree sexual offense and child pornography yesterday against Charles L. Maxwell, who is accused in charging documents of molesting a 13-year-old girl on the parking lot of an Ellicott City church and videotaping the encounter New Year's Day after the two met online.

Investigators identified Maxwell through a sting operation and arrested him after the girl, who has since turned 14, set up a second meeting.

Maxwell, a business science teacher who also was an assistant football coach at Dundalk, has been transferred to a desk job and is not teaching, according to his lawyer.

Lawyers for Furlough and Maxwell said yesterday the indictments were not unexpected.

Furlough, who was initially placed on suicide watch at the Howard County Detention Center, has been moved into protective custody where he is isolated from the jail population, said his lawyer, Jan O'Connor.

A competency evaluation by state mental health workers has been ordered but not completed for Furlough, who O'Connor said was taking medication for "major depression."

Maxwell, 33, of the first block of Dodworth Court in Timonium, was released Jan. 9 after posting $100,000 bond.

"He's devastated over the allegations being made over something he didn't do," said attorney George Psoras, who, along with partner Joseph Murtha, represents Maxwell.

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