Man recruited to dump body aids in two arrests, police say

Informant leads officers to home in Ellicott City

March 09, 2004|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

A man recruited to help dump the body of a Northeast Baltimore woman -- who was killed late last week and put into a freezer -- led police to two suspects as they tried to move the freezer from an Ellicott City home, according to police charging documents.

Howard County police did not identify the informant who helped lead them Saturday evening to the body of Tamaria Hughes, 36, who had been missing since early Thursday, her fiance and family members said.

Hughes worked as a crossing guard at a school in Northeast Baltimore's Hamilton neighborhood and lived with her fiance and three of her children -- ages 14, 12, and 5 -- in a two-bedroom apartment in the 2200 block of Pentland Drive, overlooking Northern Parkway in Northeast Baltimore. She also had an 18-year-old son who lives in Florida, family members said.

Kathy L. Gray, 40, of the 3200 block of Corporate Court in Ellicott City and Anthony T. Williams, 31, of the 5100 block of Barto Ave. in Suitland, Prince George's County, were charged with first-degree murder and assault. They were being held without bail at the Howard County Detention Center.

The informant, who initially contacted Prince George's County police, told authorities he met one of the suspects last week at a motel in that county, the charging documents said. They had drinks together, and the suspect asked him for help in disposing of a body, the documents said.

The informant then tipped off Prince George's County police, who shared the information with Howard police. The man agreed to help detectives.

He met the couple at a Prince George's County gas station Saturday, and he drove them in his pickup truck to Gray's home in Ellicott City, the documents said. At the home, the freezer was loaded onto the bed of his truck and the three drove away, the documents said. They were stopped shortly after that by Howard police officers, who were keeping watch nearby.

It was unclear yesterday where Hughes was killed, but according to police, the informant said he was told that Hughes had assaulted Gray, Williams' girlfriend.

Gray lived in the Colt's Crossing apartment complex with her three young children. Gray was in the process of getting a divorce from her husband, Kevin N. Gray Sr., according to a review of court records.

Williams had previous convictions for battery in 1992 and selling an unspecified item without a license in 1993. Williams was charged late last year with theft and telephone misuse in one case, and theft, concealing a deadly weapon and drug charges in another case, court records show.

Yesterday, Hughes' family continued to cope with their loss and were waiting for police to piece together the final moments of her life and the motive for her death.

At their apartment, her fiance, Clifton L. Moody, 37, and family members described Hughes as a devoted mother who loved to roller skate and ride her motorcycle. She belonged to an all-women's motorcycle club called Platinum Divas MC, which was formed last March, the group's Web site said. Moody said he and Hughes planned to wed next month.

Although police recovered Hughes' Honda sedan, the whereabouts of some of her personal effects were unclear, her family said. But one item came in the mail yesterday: As Moody stood in their living room, a mail carrier dropped an envelope in the door slot containing Hughes' driver's license.

Apparently, someone had found her license, dropped it in the mail, and it was forwarded to her home address.

Moody said the last time he saw Hughes was about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, when she left with a girlfriend to go dancing at a nearby club.

"She kissed me and told me she loved me and said, `I'll see you soon. ... I'm not going to stay out long,'" Moody said. "My last two words to her were: `Be careful.'"

About 2:30 a.m., Hughes dropped off her friend at her car, which was parked at Hughes' apartment. But Hughes never went inside her apartment, according to Moody and her sister, Beatrice Brown, 52. The friend told Hughes' family members that two people had been calling Hughes "all night."

"They wanted her to come out to Ellicott City," Brown said.

About 4 a.m., Moody said he talked to Hughes on her cell phone. "She said she was in the Randallstown area, dropping off a girlfriend's friend who was with her," he said. "That was the last I heard from her."

Moody said he tried to call her back seconds later, and her phone had been turned off and was accepting only voice mail. "I felt that was very strange because Tamaria never turns her phone off," he said.

After that, he called her cell phone regularly through Thursday morning, and then reported her missing to the police about 11:30 a.m., he said.

At Hamilton Elementary/Middle School, where Hughes was a crossing guard, Principal Tony Barnes said she was "always at her post" in the mornings and afternoons in the two years she worked at the school.

"That's why we were shocked the other day when she didn't call in and nobody was there," Barnes said.

A Howard County police spokeswoman said an autopsy was completed yesterday. The family said it had not completed funeral arrangements.

Sun staff writer Lisa Goldberg contributed to this article.

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