Parolee charged with murder in 1976 death of his girlfriend

Baltimore County police also investigating wife's disappearance in 1985

February 22, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

At the time his girlfriend's body was dumped in the Back River in 1976, Paul Brown Clark wasn't officially a suspect, nor was he linked to the disappearance of his wife nearly a decade later.

But Baltimore County police said yesterday they believe the 56-year-old Essex man was responsible for killing at least one of the women.

Clark, of the 1100 block of Gelmsford Road, was charged this month with first-degree murder in the strangulation death of Edwina Faith Campbell, whom he was dating.

Yesterday, police asked for the public's help in solving the disappearance of Clark's wife, Helen Marie Clark, who was reported missing in 1985 by co-workers.

The 27-year-old woman's car was found at the couple's house, where she was last seen, said Officer Shawn Vinson, a county police spokesman.

"We would never call someone a suspect unless they were actually charged with a crime," Vinson said. "But detectives are looking at the cases and asking anyone with information to come forward."

Clark was released from the Patuxent Institute, a state psychiatric prison, in 1972 after serving more than five years for arson after he was found guilty of setting a previous girlfriend's house in Dundalk on fire in 1966. No one was injured in the blaze.

Clark was sent to prison in 1985 and served 17 years of a 25-year sentence for burglary and theft. He was released in December and is on probation until 2010, according to Maryland Division of Correction officials.

He is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center without bail on the murder charge.

Clark was arrested Feb. 6 by Baltimore County homicide detectives, who reopened the Campbell case in December after receiving new information about her death, Vinson said.

Initially, a state medical examiner listed the cause of Campbell's death as undetermined. Her body was found washed up on the shore of the Rocky Point Golf Course in the 1900 block of Back River Neck Road on March 26, 1976. Last month, the chief medical examiner changed the cause of death to strangulation.

Police said Clark has not cooperated with their investigation into his wife's disappearance in February 1985, refusing to answer questions about what might have happened to her.

Detectives believe that Helen Clark was killed after an argument.

Anyone with information about either case is asked to call police at 410-307-2020.

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