Man, 48, arrested in decade-old killing

Witnesses provide information in beating of elderly city resident

May 28, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

For 10 years, two people quietly held information about the killing of Ollie Hines, a 95-year-old widower who served as a one-man greeting committee from the porch of his West Baltimore home.

City police say the witnesses saw three people enter the elderly man's home Feb. 15, 1994, the night he was robbed and badly beaten. One witness moved after the incident and the other remained in the neighborhood, unknown to police.

The police investigation into the killing had stalled until two months ago. That's when Detective Homer Pennington re-examined the case and discovered the witnesses. Their recollections led to the arrest of a suspect this week.

Raymond Sharp, 48, of the 500 block of McMechen St. was arrested at his residence late Tuesday night and charged with first-degree murder, police said.

David Sharp, the suspect's deceased brother, and Plymouthtine Moore, his deceased sister, were accomplices in the robbery and beating, police said.

"I had just kind of lost faith in the system," said Howard Hines, the victim's 57-year-old son. "It was my feeling that ... people can murder people and suffer no consequences."

Hines said he tried to persuade his father to leave his residence in the 1300 block of N. Fremont Ave. as the neighborhood became crime ridden. But Ollie Hines refused to move.

The retired Baltimore Gas and Electric worker liked his front porch. He liked living alone. And he liked giving candy to the children in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood.

Hines was cooking dinner when his attackers crept into his house.

The savage beating left him with a broken cheekbone and he lost his sight in one eye and the use of his left hand and left foot. He also sustained severe memory loss.

Nearly six months later, Hines died in a Howard County nursing home. An autopsy ruled his death a homicide -- one of 321 that year in Baltimore.

"I was just horrified looking at my father," Howard Hines recalled yesterday. "He had been beaten so badly I could hardly recognize him. I'd never seen someone beaten so bad."

The attackers stole $20, a small marble statue and a videocassette recorder, according to previous accounts.

Detective Rick Petrey handled the case at the time. He has since become a sergeant supervising homicide detectives, but he never forgot Ollie Hines.

Two months ago, he asked Pennington to explore the case.

Pennington is part of the Police Department's cold-case squad, a group composed largely of former homicide detectives.

Its investigators re-examine old cases. This year, the squad made an arrest in the 1963 murder of a 3-year-old boy.

As Pennington delved into the Hines case, he set his sights on witnesses.

Using more advanced search databases than were available in 1994, he found one witness -- a woman who had moved to New York.

He found the other in the neighborhood where the crime occurred.

"Thank God," Pennington said, "that when I did the area canvass there was someone who still lived in the area and came forward."

Those witnesses, whom he declined to identify, willingly told him what they had seen 10 years ago, he said.

"Since they caught [Sharp]," Howard Hines said, "I'm starting to develop more faith in the system."

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