2 bodies found in car trunk on I-95

Troopers also discover fake currency, pirated CDs, DVDs in separate incident

November 07, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt and Amanda Angel | Laura Barnhardt and Amanda Angel,SUN STAFF

The bodies of two apparent homicide victims were found bound yesterday in the trunk of a car stopped for speeding on Interstate 95 in Cecil County, and the driver and a passenger were charged with murder.

In another bizarre incident a few miles away, troopers found counterfeit merchandise -- including pirated compact discs and digital video discs -- and counterfeit money in a vehicle involved in a fatal crash on I-95 near the Susquehanna River bridge.

The bodies were found during a late-morning traffic stop near Elkton after a trooper pulled over a northbound Dodge Intrepid for an unsafe lane change and driving 74 mph in a 65-mph zone, said Maj. Greg Shipley, state police spokesman.

The trooper, a member of the Interstate Criminal Enforcement team, became suspicious because the driver did not have a license. After questioning the driver and a female passenger, the trooper got consent to search the car, which had New York license plates, police said.

Opening the trunk, troopers found the bodies -- believed to be two African-American adults -- beneath plastic and blankets, police said.

State Police Superintendent Edward T. Norris, who came to the scene, said the driver simply put his hands behind his back after troopers opened the trunk. Norris, who has stressed enforcement efforts along I-95, praised the work of the team.

State police obtained a search warrant late last night and began a thorough examination of the car. To "preserve evidence," police said, the bodies were sent as found -- wrapped in dark plastic and blankets all bound with ropes -- to the state medical examiner's office for autopsies.

The driver and passenger were arrested. Early today, police named the suspects as James Moore, 39, of Andrews, S.C., the driver, and Porsha L. Harper, 36, of Greensboro, N.C., the passenger -- each charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

About the same time as the traffic stop, troopers responding to a fatal accident in the northbound lanes just before the Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge uncovered about 1,700 pirated CDs and DVDs, and $10,000 in counterfeit money hidden in two pairs of sneakers.

The accident occurred when a 1987 Chevrolet Astro van spun out of control and blocked the northbound left lane, said state police Sgt. Thornnie Rouse.

The driver of a 2001 Toyota Camry was able to slow to avoid the van, but then was hit by a 1984 Chevy pickup truck.

Killed in the accident was a passenger in the pickup truck, Maria Brandoni, 89, of Richmond, Va. Its driver, Morris L. Grantham, 55, also of Richmond, and John Ballard, 76, of Hightstown, N.J., a passenger in the Camry, were flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center and reported in serious condition, police said. The Camry's driver, Ballard's wife, Phoebe Ballard, 74, was taken by ambulance to Harford Memorial Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.

The two men in the van -- identified as Joshua S. Azor, 25, of Irvington, N.J., and Jamison T. Crouch-Nunn, 23, of Newark, N.J. -- were arrested and held at the JFK Highway barracks on charges of possessing counterfeit money and goods.

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