Man held in killing is found dead

Suspect in 1976 death of woman apparently hanged himself at jail

March 06, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

An Essex man charged last month with murder in the 1976 killing of a 21-year-old woman apparently committed suicide by hanging himself at the Baltimore County Detention Center, county authorities said yesterday.

Paul Brown Clark, 56, was found in his cell at 10:20 p.m. Tuesday by a jail nurse, said Jim O'Neill, the administrator of the men and women's detention centers.

Clark, who used a wheelchair and suffered from Parkinson's disease, had been held in the medical unit since his arrest Feb. 6 on first-degree murder charges. Police alleged that he strangled Edwina "Wendy" Faith Campbell and dumped her body into the Back River.

Clark apparently used a cord to the battery of his wheelchair to hang himself from the grab bar over the toilet in his cell, O'Neill said. "He had never talked of suicide ... or anything like that," he added.

Clark's apparent suicide was being investigated by Baltimore County detectives yesterday, said Bill Toohey, a county police spokesman. "Our internal affairs investigators typically review unusual incidents at the Detention Center," he said, adding that there was no initial evidence to suggest foul play or that staff failed to follow procedures.

O'Neill said a correctional officer checked on Clark about 10 p.m. Tuesday. Twenty minutes later, a nurse came into Clark's cell to check his vital signs before lights-out and found him dead, said O'Neill. Clark did not share a cell with anyone.

Police said new information uncovered in January linked Clark to Campbell's killing. The 21-year-old waitress had been friends with Clark, according to Campbell's husband. The Campbells had a son, who was 13 months old when his mother was killed.

Clark was being held without bail on the murder charge. In addition, county homicide detectives specializing in unsolved cases had been looking for information that would connect Clark with the disappearance of his 27-year-old wife, Helen Marie Clark, in 1985. He was not charged in that case.

Clark had been released from prison in December, after serving 17 years of a 25-year sentence for burglary and theft, according to officials at the Maryland Division of Correction.

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