Newlywed completes ring cycle

Police nab suspect in robberies, recover jewelry taken at gunpoint in Bolton Hill

July 11, 2006|By CHRIS YAKAITIS | CHRIS YAKAITIS,SUN REPORTER

Bryce Butler had just returned from his honeymoon when he was robbed by a masked man in Bolton Hill. He didn't care about his cash, his credit cards or even his car. But he didn't want to lose the custom-made wedding band his wife had placed on his finger two weeks earlier.

"I said, `I just got married. Please don't take my wedding ring,' " Butler said. "He looked at me and said, `Do you want to die?'"

Police returned the ring to Butler and his wife, Mara Neimanis, yesterday after recovering it from a suspect held in a recent string of robberies and carjackings throughout the city.

"It's really amazing," Butler said. "That just doesn't happen that jewelry gets taken and you get it back."

Keith Ray, 36, was arrested Saturday night in the Hillendale section of Parkville after detectives said they tracked calls from a stolen cell phone to a house in the first block of Comet Court. Police said Ray has been charged with robbing 10 people in five incidents over the past two months, and he could be charged in up to 20 robberies throughout the city.

Police said the man suspected in the robberies tried to run and smashed through a sliding glass door, cutting his arms and legs, said Maj. Michael Tabor, head of the detective unit. The man was taken to a hospital and treated for cuts, and later implicated himself in "a numerous amount of crimes," Tabor said.

Butler, 57, was accosted about 11:45 p.m. Friday while returning from a late-night errand to pick up dish detergent. As he was approaching his townhouse on Jordan Street, Butler said, he was stopped by a masked man holding a handgun who demanded his wallet. Then, the man asked for his jewelry.

Butler said after he turned over the ring, the robber asked him to get into his car. Butler - who said he and his wife were "blithely unaware" of the crime spree in North Baltimore - said he took a swing at the man with his bottle of detergent. He missed, and he said the man clubbed him in the cheek with the barrel of the pistol.

He then ran into his house, where Neimanis, 42, saw blood pouring from her newlywed husband's face. "I didn't know if he had been shot, if he was going to be dead in a second," she said. "In the deep recesses of my mind I'm thinking, `For better for worse, for better for worse.' "

Neimanis called police. "They said, `We're going to get this guy,'" Butler said. "They called the next day and said, `We've caught him.'"

Tabor said Ray was released from prison April 7 after serving a 14-year sentence for armed robbery and handgun violations. Ray was being held without bail at the Baltimore City Detention Center, Tabor said.

Butler and Neimanis went to police headquarters yesterday for a re-creation - of sorts - of their June 25 wedding.

"Detective [James] Schuler pulled the ring out of the evidence bag and my wife put it back on my finger," Butler said.

"I said, `May you never take this off again,'" Neimanis added. "But he had to take it off because I put it on backwards."

chris.yakaitis@baltsun.com

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