Digest

September 26, 2007

DNA links city man, 39, to 1984 rape, 1987 killing

A man has been linked by DNA evidence to a 1984 rape and a 1987 killing in Baltimore County, police said yesterday.

Joseph McInnis Jr., 39, of the 3500 block of Elmley Ave. in Northeast Baltimore has been charged with first-degree rape in the 1984 incident and first-degree murder in the 1987 killing, county police said yesterday.

On Aug. 29, the state police forensic lab told county police that DNA retrieved from the two crime scenes matched each other, suggesting that one person was linked to both crimes. But the DNA did not match any in the state's database. On Sept. 5, investigators obtained a sample of DNA from McInnis, whose name had been mentioned during the rape investigation, police said.

On Friday, the county Police Department's lab notified detectives that McInnis' sample matched DNA samples from the crime scenes, police said.

The rape occurred Sept. 6, 1984, when a man forced his way into a home on Gwynn Oak Avenue, ordered a 44-year-old woman living there into the basement, raped her, then fled on foot, according to police.

On May 17, 1987, Percy Leroy Jones, 48, was found dead in his apartment in the first block of Brubar Court, just off Liberty Road, police said.

Jones had been stabbed in the chest and back in a killing that police at the time said appeared to be drug-related, according to a 1987 newspaper account. The apartment contained scales used to weigh drugs, spoons used to heat and mix drugs and several discarded marijuana cigarettes, according to the account.

In 1996, McGinnis received an 18-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to a drug charge, court records show. Other drug and assault charges filed against him over several years were either dismissed or placed on the inactive docket, records show.

He pleaded guilty to an armed robbery charge in 1990 in Baltimore County Circuit Court, according to court records, but it was unclear what sentence was imposed.

McInnis was being held without bail at the county Detention Center.

Sexual abuse case

Ex-police officer granted early release

A former Baltimore County police officer sentenced to 18 months in jail for sexually abusing a seventh-grade boy was granted early release yesterday.

County Circuit Judge John G. Turnbull II ordered that James Mark Blankenship Jr. be set free Friday after serving a year of his sentence.

An attorney for Blankenship asked the judge to reduce his sentence, noting that the former officer's behavior in jail "has been perfect" and that the conditions of his incarceration have been "unusually difficult."

"For safety reasons, he has remained in solitary confinement in a very small cell for 23 hours per day," defense attorney Andrew I. Alperstein wrote in his request. He added that Blankenship was verbally threatened by a gang member in jail.

Prosecutors opposed the request, writing in their court filing that Blankenship used his position as an officer assigned to Dundalk Middle School to "groom and then sexually abuse" the victim.

Prosecutor Jason G. League also noted that between the court hearing in February last year when Blankenship pleaded guilty to child sexual abuse and his sentencing hearing last September, the former officer maintained an online profile on a social networking Web site in which he portrayed himself as a 14-year-old boy and "invited other young boys to contact him online."

Blankenship, 29, must serve two years' supervised probation and have no unsupervised contact with children under 18. He also was required to register with the state as a child sex offender.

Jennifer McMenamin

Investigation

Detective suspended with pay

A 25-year veteran of the Baltimore County police has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of a criminal investigation, a county police spokesman said yesterday.

The spokesman would not disclose the nature of the investigation involving Molly A. Gardner, 45, a detective assigned to the department's burglary unit.

"Because it's a personnel matter, I can only confirm she's under investigation, but I can't give any details," said the spokesman, Bill Toohey. "She has not yet, and may not be, criminally charged."

Josh Mitchell

Owings Mills

Man sought in robbery of woman

County police are seeking a man in the armed robbery of a 21-year-old woman this month in Owings Mills.

The woman was walking in the 200 block of River Way Court, from her car toward her residence, about 2 a.m. Sept. 10 when she was approached by a man, police said. The man was talking on his cell phone, then pointed a handgun at the woman, took her purse and ran toward Pleasant Ridge Road, police said. The woman was not injured, police said.

Police said they believe the robber and another man are responsible for three other recent armed robberies in Owings Mills:

Just after midnight Friday, two men walking on Straw Hat Road were robbed at gunpoint of property and an undisclosed amount of cash.

At 10:15 p.m. Sept. 14, a 27-year-old man delivering a pizza to an address in the 100 block of Willow Bend Drive was robbed by two men, one with a knife, of an undisclosed amount of cash.

About 8:40 p.m. Sept. 8, a 29-year-old man delivering food to an address in the 200 block of River Way Court was robbed by two men, one with knife, of an undisclosed amount of cash.

Anyone with information is asked to call county police at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7- LOCKUP. Callers to Metro Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and could be eligible for a reward of up to $2,000.

Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to baltco.news@baltsun.com. Information should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the event.

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