A mother says she knows her son was killed, but little of how he disappeared in 2003

A vanished victim, a trail growing cold

February 14, 2007|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN REPORTER

When Angie Dailey feared for her eldest son's safety as Tropical Storm Isabel neared, she meant that she worried about a young driver being trapped in a fierce storm.

It didn't occur to her that he'd be shot beside the car that he loved, and that hours later she'd be looking from the window of her Severn living room at the vacant space where the car had been parked, as rain bathed the blood-stained street.

That was Sept. 18, 2003, and the shooting and abduction of the 19-year-old was a blip amid the crush of storm news.

Nearly 3 1/2 years later, the body of Lamarst A. Porter Jr. has not been found. Police say it is the only unsolved homicide in Anne Arundel County in which a body has not been found.

Detectives have questioned more than 100 people and used dogs and a helicopter to search for him, all to no avail.

Though she petitioned courts to have 'Marst, as she calls him, declared dead last year, Angie Dailey is torn: She can't think about planning a funeral without his remains, yet she feels he deserves a service.

"We were so close, and then he was gone. I didn't give him a proper burial, and I feel like it's my fault. I need to find him. I need to find where he is," she said.

Her husband, Richard Dailey, a truck driver, said he is desperate enough to consider hiring a psychic.

Valentine's Day heightens Angie Dailey's awareness that Porter is gone.

Every Feb. 14, Porter used to surprise his mother with something - a pretty card, a kiddie ring with red glass, costume jewelry bracelets, even tennis shoes.

That he remained thoughtful and respectful of his mother as he grew toward adulthood made her happy. Snapshots in family albums and frames show Porter grinning with his two brothers and playing with his sister.

A teenager with an intense look and a solid build from years of playing football and other sports, he graduated from Meade High School in 2002. Uncertain of what he wanted to do with his life, he took a job clearing tables at Fort Meade.

In the weeks before he disappeared, he had gone over his finances with his mother, concluding that his wages could barely keep him in Jordans, the athletic shoes he loved, let alone fund an apartment of his own. He had a long-term plan, he told her. He would enroll in the spring semester at Anne Arundel Community College.

"He didn't know what he wanted to study. I said, `Don't worry about it, just take your basic classes,'" Angie Dailey said.

Now just walking out the door of her townhouse every day can bring a wave of sorrow to the 38-year-old fashion accessories buyer. Diagonally across a landscaped corner is where Porter parked his black 1991 Lincoln Mark VII.

Like many a teenage car owner, he loved his wheels. He found the car online, got his grandfather to take him to Manassas, Va., to buy it and his stepfather to arrange to tow it home.

"It had no tags yet, but he sat in it," Angie Dailey said. "The car couldn't move, and he'd be out there washing it and waxing it."

About 8 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2003, Porter had gotten home from work. He left again at 10 p.m., after hearing his mother insist that he come home immediately if the rain began.

So, unsure of how the rest of the evening unfolded, investigators can't say whether the shooting of Porter was a random robbery gone sour or whether he was targeted.

Porter probably went to Pioneer City, said Robert Cremen, the lead detective in the case. Exactly what he was doing in the troubled community is unclear. But Cremen said Porter "was not labeled as a player. He was more of a good kid."

Dailey said the family moved from Pioneer City in 1998, and her son still had a few friends there. The neighborhoods are barely two miles apart, and teenagers from both communities go to Meade High School.

Porter came home about 1 a.m., his girlfriend in tow. He took a phone call - police do not know from whom - and soon said he needed to head out briefly.

Angie Dailey said she heard talk that her son might have won money in a dice game that night, and wonders if someone knew that and lured him to his car to rob him. But Cremen said investigators have no idea if that's anything more than a rumor.

Police placed Porter at his car about 1:30 a.m. He'd been shot and shoved inside it moments before the car took off.

"People in the area hear arguing between him and two black men, and they hear what they think is a gunshot," Cremen said. "Then his car leaves the area."

Commotion outside caught Richard Dailey's attention. When Angie Dailey looked out her window, she saw police taping off the area where her son had parked his car.

The day wore on. The winds picked up. Isabel battered the area.

A few days later, police found the car in Glen Burnie.

Adding to the chill in the air that January was a phone call. Police said the body of a black youth was found Jan. 23, 2004, in the woods in Hanover.

"They said this guy had cornrows. 'Marst didn't have cornrows," she said.

Police had found Nicholas David Tonic, 18, whose bloody 1991 Ford Escort had been found in Millersville weeks earlier.

Tonic lived down the street from the Dailey family and worked part-time for Office Movers. He was reported missing in December, having left one night to meet friends in Glen Burnie. He never arrived.

Cremen said nothing appears to link the two cases. The teenagers barely knew each other and traveled in different circles. Detectives are no further along in identifying who killed Tonic either, and both cases are growing cold.

"Any calls I get in the area on other cases - I keep their pictures with me. I ask, `Do you know these guys?'" Cremen said. "It's three years ago. But it's still fresh to me."

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

To provide information, people can call 410-222-3453. To remain anonymous, people can call for Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7LOCKUP. Crime Stoppers has offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of suspects in both cases.

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