City police were searching for clues yesterday in the fatal stabbing of a 68-year-old man during an apparent burglary in Mount Washington - a crime that stunned residents unaccustomed to violence in their neighborhood.
"We're all very upset about it," said Jan Franz, president of the Mount Washington Improvement Association. "It's very scary."
Police say the killing occurred about 2 p.m. Sunday when a caretaker living in a home in the 5600 block of Greenspring Ave. confronted a burglar.
The caretaker was stabbed to death and found by officers summoned to the house by a neighbor who reported seeing a suspicious man walking out a side door, police said.
The victim - whose identity was withheld pending notification of relatives - had been caring for an elderly woman living in the home, according to neighbors and police. The woman, who is in her 90s, was unhurt.
Maj. Regis Phelan, commander of the Northern District, said he was flooding the area with patrol officers and undercover detectives. Police have not noticed any spikes in burglaries in Mount Washington that might be linked to the killing, Phelan said.
The area near the 5600 block of Greenspring Ave. is on the edge of Mount Washington and about a 15-minute walk from Pimlico Race Course. Residents described the tree-lined neighborhood as a social one that holds regular parties. However, they said that they rarely saw the elderly woman or the caretaker.
"I've never seen anyone come in or out of that house," said a neighbor, Eddie Seidel, 36.
News of the death traveled slowly yesterday because many Mount Washington residents were observing the Jewish High Holy Day. They were fasting for Yom Kippur and out of touch with telephones, television and the news media.
As some walked by the crime scene, they expressed hope that the fatal stabbing was not a random act of violence.
"People are going to watch more closely now, with a heightened sense of awareness," Seidel said.
Police urge anyone with information to call Detective Robert Cherry of the homicide squad at 410-396-2100.