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Murder Ink

By Anna Ditkoff | Posted 4/2/2008

Murders This Week: 9
Murders This Year: 49

Levette Johnson, a 35-year-old African-American, has been identified as the man found on March 9 shot in the face in a car in the 700 block of Wildwood Parkway in Edmondson Village. The person shot in the head in the 3400 block of Wilkens Avenue on March 23 has been identified as Jeffrey Butler, an 18-year-old African-American man.

There was another fatal police-involved shooting this week. Police were called to the 3500 block of Olympia Avenue in Northwest Baltimore's Cross Country neighborhood at 4:14 p.m. on March 26. They were told that a man was chasing another person with a knife at that location. When they arrived, police found Norman Smith, a 45-year-old African-American man, with a knife in his hand. Police told him to drop the weapon, but he held onto the weapon and allegedly moved toward the officers, at which time at least one officer shot Smith several times in the upper body. Smith died at Sinai Hospital at 4:53 p.m. This is the sixth police-involved shooting this year--and the second in two weeks--and every one of them has resulted in the death of the suspect.

The death of April Montford, a 41-year-old African-American woman, was ruled a homicide this week. On Feb. 3, 1985, Montford, then a 17-year-old with two small daughters, was shot in the 4100 block of Park Heights Avenue. The shooting left her paralyzed and in need of constant care. On Feb. 29 of this year, police were called to Montford's apartment in the 400 block of West Franklin Street near Lexington Market. There they found Montford lying in bed. She was covered in bed sores and open wounds that were infested with lice and maggots. She was extremely dehydrated. Her daughter Tia Sewell, now 25, was also at the apartment. Sewell told police that she had been taking care of her mother for over two years and was paid by the state to do so. Montford was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where a doctor told police that this was the most severe case of neglect he had seen in five years with the hospital. Montford had a month's worth of urine and fecal matter on her, and her uterus had fallen outside of her vagina due to the neglect. She also smelled strongly of rotting flesh. Montford died on March 14. Sewell and Sharon Jones, Montford's 24-year-old daughter who also lived in the apartment and was supposed to be caring for Montford, were arrested on March 13 and charged with numerous counts of abuse of a vulnerable adult, reckless endangerment, and assault.The State's Attorney's office has not yet decided if Sewell and Jones will be charged with murder.

Monday, March 24

9:48 a.m. Robert Long, a 36-year-old Caucasian man, was found shot in the head behind the 400 block of South Stricker Street near Union Square in West Baltimore. He died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center at 10:28 a.m.

Wednesday, March 26

10 p.m. Zach Sowers, a 28-year-old Caucasian man, died at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center nearly a year after he was attacked and put into a coma. On June 2, 2007, Sowers was found lying between a car and the curb in the 300 block of South Robinson Street in Highlandtown. He had massive head injuries and was breathing but unresponsive. A witness said they saw someone stomp on Sowers' head. Wilburt Martin, a 19-year-old African-American male, Arthur Jeter, an 18-year-old African-American male, and Eric Price, a 17-year-old African-American male, pleaded guilty to robbery charges in connection with the Sowers incident on Dec. 7. They were each sentenced to eight years in prison. Trayvon Ramos, a 16-year-old African-American male, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder three days later and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. According to the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office, Jeter and Price stayed in the car while Ramos and Martin got out and robbed Sowers of his wallet, watch, and cell phone. Ramos punched and kicked Sowers into a coma from which he never woke up. As part of the plea agreements, none of the suspects can be tried for Sowers' murder.

Thursday, March 27

1:13 a.m. Tyrone Bahia, a 19-year-old African-American man, was found lying facedown near the intersection of South Addison and West Pratt streets in Carrollton Ridge. He had been shot in the chest. An 18-year-old African-American male who had been shot in the stomach was found nearby. Bahia died at Shock Trauma 25 minutes later. The 18-year-old survived.

Sunday, March 30

12:30 a.m. Someone driving in the 5400 block of Nelson Avenue near Arlington Elementary School saw a man lying by the street and called police. The man was Javon King, a 19-year-old African-American, and he had been shot numerous times throughout his body. He was taken to Sinai Hospital, where he died at 1:08 a.m. Several people in the neighborhood told police that they heard gunshots between 9:30 and 11 p.m., but according to police no one called 911 from that area at that time.

4:40 a.m. A few hours later, an African-American man in his late 20s was visiting friends in an apartment in the 1000 block of Billie Holiday Court in East Baltimore. He and several people were drinking and playing cards when the man got into a fight with another person there and was stabbed. He died at Johns Hopkins Hospital less than an hour later. Police are waiting until the man's family has been notified of his death to release his name.

1:17 p.m. Police were called to the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards. A man had called the front desk and told them that he had just killed his children and tried to kill himself. Police were taken to the man's room on the 10th floor of the hotel. Security opened the door, and inside police found Mark Castillo, a 41-year-old Hispanic man from Rockville, and his three children: 6-year-old Anthony, 4-year-old Austin, and 2-year-old Athena. Castillo had minor self-inflicted wounds. All three of the children were dead. According to police, Castillo drowned each child in the bathtub. Castillo has been arrested for the children's murders. This is the second time in two months a father has allegedly murdered his young child in Baltimore City.

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