Driver sought in fatal dragging

Police call for help in search for driver in March 3 incident

April 24, 2007|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,sun reporter

Baltimore police said they need the public's help searching for a driver who ran over and dragged a 65-year-old man about 40 feet last month on an East Baltimore street. After suffering a broken pelvis and other internal injuries, the man died six days later.

Police said the victim, Charles R. Erdman, and the driver of a sport utility vehicle were involved in a minor accident on Erdman Avenue on March 3, in front of the auto parts store where Erdman worked.

Police said Erdman tried to get insurance information from the SUV driver, but the driver accelerated and ran over Erdman.

Erdman got caught in the undercarriage of the green, two-door, early 1990s-model Ford Explorer, investigators said. The driver briefly stopped the vehicle, turned his wheel to try to dislodge Erdman's body, and then sped away, police said witnesses told them.

The witnesses gave police the Explorer's Maryland license plate number - 570M705 - but detectives determined that the plate had been stolen.

Erdman's daughter, Lynette Barber, said she thinks her father was run over intentionally, possibly because he had gotten in the way of a man driving with stolen plates. "He was murdered," Barber said.

Erdman was treated at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and underwent surgery for his broken pelvis, Barber said. His daughter said at one point her father was able to sit up in his bed and speak with her. She said he remembered being hit but did not know the man who hit him. He died March 9.

"He had to have bolts put in his hips to hold his pelvis together," Barber said.

Part of the incident was caught by a company's surveillance camera pointing toward Erdman Avenue, which police discovered during their investigation. The Sun obtained a copy of the video, which shows the SUV going east on Erdman Avenue as two witnesses chase the vehicle. Erdman is dislodged from underneath and left lying in the street.

Erdman's case remained in the hands of police traffic accident investigators for several days. After he died, a city prosecutor reviewed the case and determined that a murder investigation was called for. City police assigned a homicide detective to the case.

Detective Frank Miller said police have developed "some information" but still need the public's help in tracking down the driver and the Ford Explorer, which might have been slightly damaged in the incident.

Aside from possible minor damage to the Explorer's front fender or bumper, Miller said the vehicle appeared to be in good shape and well cared for.

Authorities believe that two, possibly three, men were in the SUV at the time of the incident. Witnesses described the driver as a black male with light complexion standing about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing about 200 pounds. He is in his late 30s or early 40s, and he wore a white baseball hat, brown jacket and eyeglasses.

Miller said Erdman worked as an auto parts deliveryman for Erdman Auto Parts. He said the man "lived pretty humbly" in an old camping trailer on the property.

Barber said her father was a "very honest, good man" who was well liked and trusted by his boss at the parts store, who allowed him to live on the property. She said her parents had divorced 37 years ago, but she and her mother both talked to him before he died.

Anyone with information for investigators can call the Police Department's homicide unit at 410-396-2100. Metro Crime Stoppers, 410-276-8888, is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment.

gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

Online

See the surveillance video at baltimoresun.com/reward

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