Slain Harford educator knew his assailant, authorities say

December 12, 2003|By Amanda Angel | Amanda Angel,SUN STAFF

A respected Harford County educator who was shot and killed Monday evening knew his assailant, authorities said yesterday.

David Allen Johnston, 22, is suspected in the killing of Earl Jacob Lightcap, 75, the longtime principal of Edgewood High School and former assistant superintendent of Harford County schools, said Harford sheriff's spokesman Edward Hopkins. Johnston had worked for Lightcap, doing chores around his house for a few years, authorities said.

Lightcap was found dead at his Long Bar Harbor house Tuesday afternoon by neighbors John Cooney and Frank Lucas, after he failed to show up to a meeting with Cooney, Hopkins said. He had been shot in the back of the head with a rifle between Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon, Hopkins said.

Wednesday morning, Johnston was found dead in Bush River with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head; a rifle -- suspected to be one missing from Lightcap's house -- was also found in the river off Long Bar Harbor, Hopkins said. Deputies are investigating the case as a murder-suicide, he said.

Johnston was found guilty of second-degree assault and possession of drug paraphernalia charges last year.

Lightcap's nephew, Bob Dando, said that Johnston was one of the children Lightcap tried to help.

"He would take kids from the neighborhood and help them by giving them jobs around the home," Dando said

Hopkins confirmed that Lightcap had employed Johnston.

Johnston "had done some work for Dr. Lightcap over the past few years," Hopkins said.

Lightcap's family, which is mostly in Pennsylvania, was informed of the homicide Tuesday night.

"It was a devastating shock," Dando said.

Dando and his brother, Verne Dando, said Lightcap, who never married or had children, was like a father to them after their father died. Lightcap, an avid outdoorsman and boater, taught the brothers and many other area children to water ski at his home in the summer.

"His home was a summer getaway for all of us," Verne Dando said.

The career educator was inducted into the Harford County Public School Hall of Fame last year. He spent three years as a teacher, 18 as a principal and 10 as an assistant principal in the county.

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