Reputed drug dealer charged with dumping scalding water on pair

Victims, 71 and 51, had been stashing drugs for suspects, police say

April 10, 2011|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

An man who police say is a member of a Baltimore drug organization tied to a rash of violence across the city has been charged with attempted murder after police say he dumped scalding water on a 71-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman to punish them for stealing drugs.

Police wrote in court papers that the victims were receiving free "testers" of heroin in exchange for allowing two men to stash drugs in their apartment in the Latrobe Homes projects, in East Baltimore. On Feb. 17, the dealers, identified as 28-year-old Eric Rich and a second man who has not been arrested, checked on the stash and believed the amount to be short.

The victims denied taking any of the drugs, but Rich and two other men hit them with sticks and a glass ashtray, police say. The attackers forced them to remove their clothing and sit in a bathtub, heated water on a stove until it was scalding and dumped it on them, according to police.

The victims did not seek medical attention because they feared for their lives, they told investigators. Officers noted in court papers that the pair had visible burns when they met with police weeks later on March 3.

In 2009, authorities identified Rich as a member of an organization known as the "Chapel Hill Boys," according to sources, that engaged in a high-profile feud with reputed drug kingpin Steven Blackwell, who is now in jail as he awaits a trial on federal charges. Authorities have said the feud was touched off by the abduction of Blackwell's two younger brothers and included a quadruple shooting outside an appliance store and a shootout at a backyard cookout that injured 12 people.

Several members of Blackwell's organization and the Chapel Hill Boys were killed during the outbreak of violence that stretched more than a year, while others were charged and convicted of weapons or drug offenses.

Police filed charges against Rich in the burning case in early March, and he was picked up April 1 after an officer on patrol in the Monument Street area on the east side attempted a traffic stop on Rich's 1997 BMW. Officers wrote that Rich took off at high speed and was observed dumping a baggie of brown powder — suspected heroin — out the window before being taken into custody.

Rich was being held without bond, court records show.

>> Most recent updates

    Baltimore Sun Articles
    Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.