Suspect named in home invasions

Items taken from homes in Columbia, pawned in Baltimore said to tie suspect to crimes

December 21, 2006|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,sun reporter

Howard County police are searching for a 39-year-old man wanted in two home invasions in Columbia, one of which included the attempted rape of a woman who was gagged and handcuffed.

Police are offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of Ronnie Gordon Smith Jr., whom police identified by sifting through receipts from Baltimore pawn shops, said Capt. Tara Nelson, who leads the county's criminal investigations bureau.

People pawning merchandise are required to show proof of identity - a record of which is kept on a pawn slip. Smith is believed to have used his real name and identification, Nelson said.

"This involved hand searches and detectives sifting through hundreds of pieces of paper," Nelson said. "The seriousness of these crimes demanded that manpower and resources."

Smith, whose whereabouts are unknown but whose Motor Vehicle Administration record listed him as once living on Richfield Drive in Severn, pawned an Xbox 360, iPod Shuffle, Hewlett-Packard laptop and other items Dec. 12, court records said. The serial number on the laptop matches one stolen from an apartment on Brook Way near Columbia Town Center, according to court records.

When the 24-year-old victim arrived home Dec. 11, a man struck her in the face with his fist and a Maglite flashlight, pulled her into her bedroom and struck her again, according to records. The victim was then put in handcuffs and gagged with a sock, which was secured with medical tape, according to the narrative provided by police to the court.

The victim, whose name is being withheld, told police that she was sexually assaulted. Then, as the man began putting on a condom, she pleaded with him and repeatedly told him she had a sexually transmitted disease, which persuaded the assailant to stop, according to the narrative.

Police believe the same man entered a 60-year-old woman's apartment on nearby Smooth Meadow Way the previous week. The woman got out of bed about 8 a.m. Dec. 6, when she heard someone walking in her living room. She thought it was a contractor who had let himself in to do remodeling work.

When she stepped into the hallway, a man pulled a hat that the victim was wearing down over her face and forced her into the bedroom, according to court records.

The assailant tied her hands behind her back with a bra and phone cord, according to court documents, then placed tape over her mouth. He then ordered her to point out her valuables. Jewelry, a laptop and other items, which police say the victim identified at the Baltimore pawn shop, were pawned on the same day as the burglary.

In both cases, the assailant entered the apartments through an unlocked window or sliding glass door.

The maximum penalty for attempted first-degree rape and a first-degree sex offense is life in prison.

Anyone with information is asked to call Howard police at 410-313-3200.

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