Witness helps catch suspect in assault case

Man accused of attacking woman at open house

Real estate agents more cautious

Carroll County

October 26, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

With the help of an alert real estate agent, state police arrested a Sykesville man almost six months to the day after authorities say he assaulted a developer's female employee at an open house in Eldersburg.

Kent Eugene Stover, 37, of the 700 block of Conservatory Drive was arrested Sunday afternoon by state troopers at the Preakness Homes residential development where the assault took place April 25, authorities said.

He was charged with one count each of first- and second-degree assault. After being processed through Carroll County Central Booking, Stover was released on a $50,000 bond.

State police spokesman Sgt. Thornnie Rouse said a witness who identified Stover from the April attack saw the same green GMC Yukon Denali sport utility vehicle enter the development Sunday afternoon and called police.

The witness, a woman working in a model home nearby, followed the vehicle and enlisted another person to help her block Stover's escape.

Authorities said Stover stayed in his vehicle until police arrived.

"We don't encourage people blocking suspects because it could be dangerous, but this time it all worked out," Rouse said.

Police said the assault caused heightened concern among female real estate agents working alone at open houses throughout the region.

Police circulated fliers with a description of the suspect, and real estate agents and developers advised two-person teams to hold open houses.

Tfc. John Linton said he received reports during the summer that a man matching Stover's description was seen at other open houses throughout the region.

Linton said he suspected the man was staking out houses for another possible attack.

"There were a lot of calls after this happened," Rouse said. "There are a lot of females working by themselves at these open houses."

Charging documents show that in the April attack, a man arrived at the open house about noon and made small talk with his victim.

She was working alone at a model home in the 700 block of Old Liberty Road, which is part of Preakness' Woodsyde Estates residential development.

The victim told police the man did nothing else to cause alarm.

After she left him to wander around the house, she returned to her office, where police said the man followed her and hit her in the back of her head with a softball-size decorative metal ball.

The woman needed three staples in her scalp to close the wound.

Another employee of the developer working less than a mile from that house told police the same man had visited her minutes before the attack.

Police said the same witness helped authorities apprehend Stover on Sunday.

Realtors were relieved at the arrest, crediting police with sending out releases and sketches of the suspect throughout the investigation.

Debbie Hager, director of communications for the Maryland Association of Realtors, said the attack helped reinforce safety protocols within the regional industry.

"As an association we have heightened our awareness," Hager said. "We continue to look for a variety of resources in our own plan for realtors on listing appointments."

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