Donald Franklin Waltemeyer, a retired Baltimore City homicide investigator and most recently an Aberdeen Police Department detective sergeant, died of cancer Monday at his Dundalk home. He was 58.
Sergeant Waltemeyer, whose nickname was "Digger," was recalled yesterday as a street-savvy patrolman with a strong work ethic who pursued one of the city's most publicized murder cases of the 1980s.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Pimlico, he attended city public schools and served as a sergeant in the Army before joining the Baltimore Police Department in October 1968.
A patrolman for 17 years, he was assigned to the Southern and Western districts. He received 13 official commendations, including two letters of commendation and two Bronze Stars. In November 1985, Mr. Waltemeyer was transferred to the homicide unit.
He was soon assigned to the case of Geraldine Parrish, a storefront preacher and serial killer who lived on Kennedy Avenue near Green Mount Cemetery.
Sergeant Waltemeyer was mentioned in David Simon's book, Homicide, A Year on the Killing Streets for his role in pursuing leads on Parrish, who was convicted and sentenced to multiple life terms. She arranged the murders of four friends and relatives to collect on their insurance policies.
"Donald worked that case beautifully for months," Mr. Simon said yesterday. "He had a funny, self-effacing streak. He pretended to be an anti-intellectual but was quietly a very effective investigator."
In his book, Mr. Simon told how Sergeant Waltemeyer got his name Digger. While investigating the Parrish case, Sergeant Waltemeyer requested the exhumation of the body of a possible victim. After getting a court order, Sergeant Waltemeyer went to the graveyard. Two exhumations later, he still hadn't found the victim he was looking for and gave up. His fellow detectives left a nameplate on his desk, "Det. Digger Waltemeyer."
After 10 years in the homicide unit, Mr. Waltemeyer retired from the Baltimore force and joined the Aberdeen Police Department in September 1995. After a period in uniform patrol, he was transferred to the Criminal Investigation Section, where he served until his death. He kept the Digger nameplate on his desk in Aberdeen.
"Detective Sergeant Donald Waltemeyer was always there for everyone in the department in their time of need," said Aberdeen Police Chief Randy M. Rudy. "He was a man of compassion and extensive investigative abilities."
Friends said he built upon the investigative background he brought from Baltimore and developed into a specialist in the investigation of sexual and physical child abuse cases. He also worked closely with the staff at the Harford County Child Advocacy Center.
He continued to be assigned other types of criminal investigations. He was the lead investigator in the double homicide at a convenience store in Aberdeen in March 1999. His work led to the arrest, conviction and life sentence of the perpetrator.
During his career in Aberdeen, he acted as a mentor to younger officers, both personally and professionally.
"He could drive you to distraction with his thoroughness," said Aberdeen Detective Sgt. Stephen A. Smith.
Services were held yesterday at St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Dundalk.
Survivors include his fiancee, Kathy A. O'Halloran of Dundalk; two sons, Donald Patrick Waltemeyer and John Waltemeyer, both of Baltimore; eight brothers, Gary Waltemeyer of Denton, Leonard Waltemeyer of Las Vegas, Sidney and Joseph Waltemeyer, both of Baltimore, Jack and Robert Waltemeyer, both of Myrtle Beach, S.C., David Waltemeyer of Bel Air and Daniel Waltemeyer of Severna Park; and three sisters, Sharon Hamilton of Scaggsville, Vicky Diggins of Finksburg and Peggy Dunnigan of St. Petersburg, Fla.