Rocky relation ends in murder arrest

Ex-boyfriend held in Coppin student's death

October 28, 2007|By Gina Davis | Gina Davis,SUN REPORTER

When Veronica Fludd moved to Baltimore from Summerton, S.C., three years ago to study at Coppin State University, she planned on going back home to become an elementary school teacher, her family recalled yesterday.

Instead, the 26-year-old early-childhood education major is returning home to be buried.

"Her plan was to finish next year, even if she had to go to summer school," said Annie Pitts, Fludd's aunt. "When she moved here, she talked about wanting to go back to South Carolina to teach. But she was beginning to change her mind and wanting to stay in Baltimore."

Pitts and her husband said yesterday they found Fludd's body Friday in the foyer of their West Baltimore home in the 600 block of Lyndhurst St., where she lived with them.

Yesterday, police said they will charge Fludd's ex-boyfriend, Damon D. Smith, 27, of the first block of Enchanted Hills Road in Owings Mills, with first-degree murder after he admitted to fatally stabbing her.

"It appears to be a domestic incident with a tragic ending," said Officer Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman.

The Pitts said they were gone Friday morning for about an hour. They returned to go car shopping with Fludd, who was hurt in a Sept. 9 car accident that destroyed a 2003 Honda Accord that she and Smith co-owned.

Within hours of Fludd's death, Smith was taken into custody after he struck a pole while driving on the northbound Interstate 795 ramp to Owings Mills Boulevard, state police said. He had self-inflicted wounds and bloody socks, and city police said the crash appeared to be intentional. Baltimore County police took him to Sinai Hospital for treatment.

Smith was released from Sinai about 3 a.m. yesterday, but detectives returned him to an area hospital for further treatment, Monroe said.

The Pitts described a "rocky relationship" between Fludd and Smith that included restraining orders the two filed in April against each other. Records show that the orders were dismissed when neither showed up in court.

Also in April, Smith pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault in connection with a dispute over the Honda, according to court records. On May 15, he was given probation before judgment.

About two weeks ago, Fludd informed Smith that an insurance company needed the title to the Honda, which he still held, before a settlement check could be issued for the September accident.

"She broke off the relationship with him and was moving on," Annie Pitts said. "They had no problem until the insurance company told her he needed to sign over the title for the car."

The Pitts remembered their niece as a friendly, quiet woman who preferred staying home to watch movies and visit with friends. Growing up, she sang in the church choir.

"She loved her church back in the South," Annie Pitts said.

Fludd was the youngest of five. Her father, Willie Gibson - Annie Pitts' brother - died in 1985.

Richard Pitts said he wishes he had stayed with Fludd while his wife went to the bank on Friday.

"That was my buddy," said Richard Pitts, who enjoyed shopping with Fludd. "Our birthdays are coming up. Mine on Oct. 30, hers on Nov. 2. I can't believe that girl didn't make it to see her birthday."

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