2 found dead on Shore

U.S. 50 is shut for hours

Victims, husband and wife, are found after 5-hour barricade

June 07, 2008|By Tanika White | Tanika White,Sun reporter

Maryland State Police found a man and a woman dead in a home on the Eastern Shore yesterday, after a five-hour barricade that forced them to shut down an 8-mile stretch of U.S. 50 in both directions, from Easton through Trappe.

The victims were identified as John R. Spencer, 43, and Debra C. Spencer, 55, who were husband and wife, police said. Police are investigating the incident as a possible murder-suicide.

According to officials, Spencer called police at the Easton Barracks about 10:30 a.m. and said he had shot and killed his wife. Officers arrived at the house in the 5000 block of Ocean Gateway within minutes and surrounded the house, said Sgt. Arthur Betts, a state police spokesman.

Spencer said he would not come out, Betts said, but because he told police he had a firearm and because the home is yards west of U.S. 50, officials decided to shut down the highway.

Traffic was held up for five hours as police tried to reach Spencer. Loud music blared from the house, Betts said, but officers were unable to make contact with him.

Schools were locked down during the barricade, as were neighboring homes.

A woman who lives in the 5100 block of Ocean Gateway in Trappe said in a phone interview that she could see the police activity from her home.

"I watched the SWAT team putting on their tactical gear, and they told me to get inside my house and lock the door," said Gwen Boysclair. "I locked myself and my dog in my bedroom."

About 3:30 p.m., troopers from the Special Tactical Assault Team Element entered the home and found the couple dead.

"We're speaking with family members to try to establish what may have led up to this incident," Betts said.

Investigators are piecing together what happened in the moments before and after the man called police.

"From the time troopers arrived at the house, no shots were fired, and the troopers didn't fire any shots at the suspect or at the house," Betts said.

Police said the man and the woman sustained gunshot wounds. The bodies were sent to the medical examiner's office in Baltimore to determine an official cause of death, Betts said.

The highway, Maryland's main access to coastal beaches, was reopened shortly before 4 p.m., officials said, but not before causing major traffic delays for beachgoers and others.


Sun reporter Chris Guy and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

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