Remains found on car of man charged in woman's killing

March 29, 2007|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,sun reporter

Investigators found blood and remains from two people on the undercarriage of a car owned by a Harford County man charged with killing one woman and linked to three other deaths, newly filed court documents show.

The revelation came in a defense motion to suppress evidence of any other alleged victims from being introduced next month in the first-degree murder trial of Charles Eugene Burns. The 35-year-old Burns is charged in last year's killing of Lilliam Abramowicz Phelps, an Elkton woman whose family says she traveled to Havre de Grace to visit friends and never returned.

Authorities have said that the killings of four women, including Phelps, are believed to be linked. The victims' bodies were found in fields around Aberdeen. Burns was charged Oct. 31 in Phelps' death. There have been no charges in the other deaths as prosecutors await the medical examiner's reports.

According to the defense motion, made available this week, prosecutors have provided evidence showing that blood and remains were recovered from Burns' Dodge Neon. DNA indicates that the remains are from two people, the motion says. The defense wants the evidence barred from Burns' trial in Phelps' killing.

At a hearing Friday, a detective with the Harford County Sheriff's Office who searched the vehicle said human hair also was found. Another search warrant was requested as the investigation evolved, Detective Kenneth Smith testified.

"What started out as a sex crime went over to homicide," Smith said.

While the prosecution agreed not to introduce evidence of other victims and to exclude evidence recovered from the Bel Air apartment where Burns was staying, no agreement was reached on whether evidence from the car would be excluded. Another motions hearing is set for Monday.

Burns is scheduled to stand trial April 17 on charges stemming from Phelps' death.

He also is charged with attacking and sexually assaulting six women who were acknowledged prostitutes, police said. He was arrested after two women -- a mother and her daughter -- told police he had attacked them in separate incidents. The crimes are alleged to have taken place within about the same time frame as the killings, and the women described being taken to remote locations in Aberdeen.

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