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Murder Ink

By Anna Ditkoff | Posted 3/26/2008

Murders This Week: 2
Murders This Year: 40

The Baltimore Police Department added two more homicides to its rolls this week, but there were two other killings in the city that did not make the official list.

The first was 2008's fifth fatality stemming from a police-involved shooting. Curtis Blanche, a 28-year-old African-American man, died this week after being shot by police. On March 16, at around 2:30 a.m., police officer Anthony Jobst, a 47-year-old Caucasian man, was on patrol near the intersection of East Lafayette Avenue and North Charles Street when he heard six shots and saw a white Audi speeding away. He followed the car to an alley behind the 400 block of East 27th Street, where the car crashed and the driver, Blanche, jumped out and ran. Jobst and fellow officers, who had arrived to provide backup, chased Blanche from the car into the 400 block of East Lorraine Avenue. Blanche was standing on a wall attempting to get away. Police ordered him out of a yard, and Blanche allegedly pulled out a handgun and began shooting at police. The officers shot back, and Blanche, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was shot repeatedly and was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he died several days later. Jobst was shot in the right foot; his injuries weren't life threatening. A second officer, Hayden Gross, a 27-year-old African-American man, was grazed by a bullet and survived. According to police, the initial shots heard by officer Jobst were from a nonfatal shooting in which Blanche shot another man near Club Choices.

In addition, Stephen Nelson, a 37-year-old African-American man, was indicted by the Baltimore City Grand Jury on March 18 on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. According to charging documents, on Feb. 3 Nelson was taking care of his 3-year-old son Turner Nelson. He allegedly argued with Turner's mother, Natisha Johnson, about custody arrangements that day. He left his home with his son around 9 p.m. While he was gone, Nelson called Johnson from a pay phone and told her he was going to kill Turner so that she could not raise him with another man. Johnson called 911. Nelson called her again and told her to get dressed because her son was dead, and that he had thrown the boy off the Key Bridge. Police were sent to Nelson's home in the 2900 block of Walbrook Avenue and found him locked in a bathroom, foaming at the mouth because he tried to commit suicide by drinking cleaning chemicals. Nelson was taken to Maryland General Hospital, where he allegedly confessed to the murder on Feb. 13. Nelson told police that demons caused him to kill his son. Turner Nelson's body has not been found.

Although the homicide occurred within the city limits and Stephen Nelson's case is being tried by the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office, BPD spokesman Sterling Clifford says it is not included in the city's homicide statistics because the case is not under BPD jurisdiction; it was investigated and charged by the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

Sunday, March 23

7:18 a.m. David Rankin, a 21-year-old African-American man, was found lying in an alley behind the 3700 block of Ravenwood Avenue near the Erdman Shopping Center. He had been shot in the head and was dead. This is the fourth homicide in the Belair-Edison neighborhood this year and the eighth in the Northeastern Police District, which continues to lead the city in homicides.

6:41 p.m. That night, police found an African-American male in his late teens or early 20s lying face down on the pavement in the 3400 block of Wilkens Avenue near St. Agnes Hospital in Southwest Baltimore. He had also been shot in the head and died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center at 7:23 p.m. He had no identification on him when his body was found, and police have not yet been able to identify him.

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