Man caught in boy's room has history of sex charges

Cases going back 3 decades accused him of abusing juveniles

September 07, 2007|By Julie Scharper and Jennifer McMenamin | Julie Scharper and Jennifer McMenamin,Sun reporters

A Dundalk man charged with an attempted sex offense after he was found hiding in a boy's bedroom this week has an arrest record of burglaries involving sex offenses against boys going back three decades and was accused of a similar crime in the same neighborhood 16 years ago, according to police and court records.

Richard Lewis Marks was accused in 1991 of entering a Dundalk home through an unlocked door and waking a teenage boy, according to a report released yesterday by Baltimore County police. In that instance, Marks was accused of forcing the boy to undress and performing a sex act on him, according to the police report.

Marks pleaded guilty to burglary in exchange for a sentence of 25 years without parole, and the sex offense charges against him were dropped. He remained in prison until April of this year when he was transferred to home detention and returned to his mother's Dundalk house in the 1900 block of Guy Way. He was released by the state prison system April 30.

Marks, starting in the early 1970s, was arrested "several times for burglaries involving sexual offenses on juvenile male victims," according to charging documents filed Tuesday. In several cases, Marks - who has spent all but about nine months of the past 33 years in prison - broke into homes late at night, woke boys and performed sex acts on them, police wrote in the charging documents.

Court files containing more detailed accounts of the allegations against Marks in his 1974 and 1975 cases have been destroyed. But docket entries that remain at the courthouse reveal that he was, at age 16, convicted of burglary and assault. A Baltimore County jury acquitted him of assault with intent to rape. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Early Monday morning, Brian Jarrell, who lives a half-mile away from Marks, noticed a strange odor coming from the room where his 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter were sleeping. When he entered the room, he saw two hands jutting from the door of an armoire. Jarrell chased and tackled the man, who was later identified as Marks, and held him to the ground in the yard until police arrived.

Marks, 49, was charged with an attempted first-degree sex offense and burglary.

Chemical-soaked rags were found in the boy's bedroom, as was a book bag, believed to have been left by Marks, that contained latex gloves, toy false teeth, knives, girl's underwear and candy, court records show.

Police searched Marks' home this week and found pornography, binoculars and handwritten notes about tranquilizing drugs such as chloroform and GHB, which is often called the "date rape" drug.

Yesterday, county police obtained a second search warrant and searched the home again, looking for evidence that might link him to other crimes or establish whether he had previously entered the Jarrell home, spokesman Bill Toohey said.

The Jarrells said investigators told them that police had seen a Goosebumps book in the suspect's home, and the parents said they had recently bought several books from the popular children's series, but were unsure whether any were missing.

Police will follow standard procedures, such as checking recovered evidence for fingerprints, to determine whether any items seized yesterday establish that Marks previously entered the Jarrells' home, Toohey said.

Several similarities appear to exist between Monday's incident and the 1991 break-in. Both boys lived a few blocks away from Marks' mother's home. Both boys were sleeping in homes with unlocked doors.

In the earlier case, the boy's mother told police that Marks had been following her son for several weeks before the attack. She said that she had seen him sitting in a beige van watching the boy take down Christmas lights and later observed the man lurking around Sandy Plains Elementary School.

In Monday's incident, the boy's sister had told her parents that she had seen a man in the backyard a few days earlier. The back gate had been found open on several recent mornings.

A bag containing petroleum jelly was found in the book bag Marks is believed to have left in the boy's bedroom Monday. Marks was found with a jar of petroleum jelly in his jacket pocket when he was arrested less than half an hour after the 1991 incident.

The 1991 police report also refers to two other cases in which Marks entered homes in the neighborhood through an unlocked door and offered boys money to allow him to perform a sex act on them. Additional information about those cases was not immediately available.

Had Marks been convicted in 1991 of sex crimes against the teenager, he would have been required in 2001 to join the state's registry of convicted sex offenders, said David P. Wolinski, a retired Baltimore County police lieutenant who now manages the registry program for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Although the registry was not created until 1995, the legislature decided to retroactively add anyone convicted of a sex crime as of Oct. 1, 2001, he said.

Marks was not released from prison until April this year.

Even so, Wolinski said, sex offender registries are intended to provide parents and others with information about people whom their children might come into contact with in their neighborhoods and communities.

"This is one of those cases when I don't think the registry would have made a difference," he said, adding that printing a name on a list wouldn't do much to prevent someone from sneaking into a stranger's home in the middle of the night.

julie.scharper@baltsun.com jennifer.mcmenamin @baltsun.com

Sun reporter Josh Mitchell contributed to this article.

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