Man charged as accessory as burned body is identified

Victim is Woodlawn girl, 15

two more suspects sought

July 31, 2004|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

A burning body found last week in a Pikesville park has been identified as a 15-year-old Woodlawn girl, and yesterday morning Baltimore County police charged the man who they said set her ablaze.

But police said they have not arrested the men who they believe killed Quartrina Kisha Johnson. A medical examination revealed that Johnson may have died from asphyxiation after being strangled or smothered, but she also had visible head trauma, according to court documents.

Officers and firefighters found her body in flames at 5:40 a.m. July 20.

Ogden Edward Coleman, 20, of the 7300 block of Campfield Road was charged yesterday morning as an accessory after the fact. He told police he met with two men July 20 near Forest Park Avenue in West Baltimore to pick up Johnson's body, according to a statement of charges in the case.

"He [Coleman] believed he could destroy any evidence on the body connecting it with his friend. He also hoped that the body would not be able to be identified," detectives wrote in the charging documents.

According to the charging documents, Coleman told police that he transferred Johnson's body from the trunk of his friend's 2003 Honda Sonata to his girlfriend's 2002 Nissan Sentra. He then drove to the woods of Gwynnvale Park near Idylwood Road, set the body on the ground, doused it in gasoline and set it on fire, the documents state.

Police would not give details about the two men, and they had not been arrested last evening.

"Obviously we would like to find them," said Bill Toohey, a police spokesman.

Coleman's charging documents give no motive for Johnson's killing, nor do they specify how, if at all, she knew the men.

Coleman was being held yesterday at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $250,000 bail, police said.

Court records show he was indicted last summer in Baltimore County on charges of attempted first-degree rape, a third-degree sex offense, a fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree battery. The outcome of that case was unclear yesterday.

He also has several convictions for marijuana possession, records show.

Johnson lived with a foster family in the 3400 block of Hillsmere Road. Police released a sketch and a digitally enhanced image of the burned face before someone came forward this week with her identity.

Johnson's mother, Quarnoda Sellers, said her eldest daughter -- called "Trina" -- visited her frequently, though she said they hadn't lived together in the past six years.

Sellers, a Reservoir Hill resident, said Johnson had been a straight-A student when the family lived together in the West Baltimore neighborhood of Bentalou. Johnson had three brothers and three sisters, Sellers said.

Johnson moved in with her great-grandmother at age 9, the mother said, and then into a foster home a few months ago. But Sellers said Johnson often spent time with her, and that the two would go shopping and to the movies.

"She was very sensitive," Sellers said. "She always had a lot of friends. ... That's why I just don't understand this."

Police said Johnson was promptly reported missing by her foster mother, but the report wasn't initially linked to the burning body because police believed the body was that of a 17-to-30-year-old woman weighing about 180 pounds. Johnson was 15 and weighed about 150 pounds.

Police would not disclose who identified Johnson.

Sellers said a candlelight vigil would be held for her daughter at 8 p.m. Sunday in the spot where her body was found. She said she wants the other men involved to turn themselves in to police.

"I am looking forward to court," Sellers said. "I want to look into their eyes and ask what they were thinking. How could you do that to such a sweet child?"

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