Deaths of 2 Md. women ruled as homicides

Victims among four found in remote Harford sites in '06

April 29, 2007|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

Two women whose bodies were found in a remote field in Harford County last year were the victims of homicide, the state medical examiner's office has determined.

Jennifer Lynn Blankenship, 26, and Joyce Ann Toliver, 51, were among four women whose bodies were found in remote locations south of U.S. 40 between June and September last year, and investigators said at the time that they believed the deaths were linked to a common suspect.

Last week, a 35-year-old laborer was convicted in the killing of Lillian Abramowicz Phelps, whose body was found June 14. Prosecutors said she may have been assaulted before Charles Eugene Burns ran her over with his Dodge Neon, puncturing her skull and leaving her blood on the bottom of the vehicle.

No one has been charged in the deaths of the other three women, but the medical examiner's office has since ruled that both Blankenship and Toliver were homicide victims, said spokeswoman Shirl Walker. All were last seen in late May or early June.

Prosecutors have declined to discuss the possibility of other charges against Burns and said investigations were continuing. They are unable to bring charges in those cases until autopsies are completed.

A final report on the death of Blankenship, whose blood was also recovered from the bottom of Burns' car, has not been made available to police because it is incomplete.

The cause of death for Blankenship, an Aberdeen resident, and Toliver, who police say was homeless, are being withheld because of the continuing criminal investigations.

Medical examiners have not determined a cause of death for Sheila Ann Turner, a 42-year-old Aberdeen resident who was found June 2 near train tracks in Perryman. Three months later, Blankenship and Toliver were found not far from that spot.

Examiners found "no identifiable anatomic or toxicologic cause of death" for Turner, and her cause of death is officially listed as "undetermined."

Sun reporter Gus Sentementes contributed to this article.

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