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Murder Ink

By Anna Ditkoff | Posted 4/23/2008

Murders This Week: 4
Murders This Year: 58

A body found in Baltimore County became a city homicide this week. On April 13 someone was walking their dog by a vacant construction site in Essex when they saw a body and called 911. When Baltimore County police arrived they found the body of a man who had been burned beyond recognition. The next day, the medical examiner's office ruled that the death was caused by blunt-force trauma and stab wounds. A person came forward who said that Edward Palmer, a 58-year-old African-American man, had killed the man. Palmer and his wife, a 46-year-old African-American woman named Catherine Palmer, were arrested on April 17 at their home in the 600 block of North Clinton Street in Baltimore City. According to charging documents, Catherine told police that when she came home from work on April 11, her husband and their landlord, who neither the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office nor the police department have identified, were having drinks. The two men started arguing, and Catherine went up to bed. When she awoke the next morning, Edward allegedly told her that he killed their landlord in self-defense, and she then found the man's body facedown on the floor of the living room. Catherine and Edward rolled the man up in a sheet, put his body in the garage, according to charging documents, and cleaned the spot where he died because her family was coming to visit that day. According to the charging documents, Catherine told police that they had "a lovely evening" with her family, then Edward borrowed a car, further wrapped the body, and put it in the vehicle. Allegedly, Edward then drove them to a friend's house in Essex, stopping on the way to fill a container with gasoline. When he arrived at the friend's house he asked for help disposing of the body, charging documents say, but his friend said no. Edward and Catherine allegedly drove a short distance from the friend's house and pulled over. Edward pulled the dead man out of the car, the charging documents claim, doused him in gasoline, and set him on fire.

Monday, April 14

9:12 a.m. Shaundretta Griffin, a 14-year-old African-American girl, was at the home of Charles Jakes, an 18-year-old African-American man, in the 1900 block of North Patterson Park Avenue south of Clifton Park. According to police, Jakes and Griffin were dating. Griffin and Jakes were in the basement, when, according to charging documents, Jakes' mother heard a gunshot. She opened the basement door and saw Griffin lying on Jakes' bed. She was half-naked--clad in only a shirt and socks--and was bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head. Jakes was allegedly standing over Griffin and told his mother, "I didn't mean to kill her." His mother called 911. Griffin was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital but was dead by the time she arrived. Jakes was taken to Union Memorial Hospital; he had been shot in the thumb and allegedly told police, "It was a mistake, I didn't mean to kill shorty." Jakes was arrested and charged with Griffin's murder.

Wednesday, April 16

2:50 p.m. Tavon Smith, a 27-year-old African-American man, was in the 2900 block of Garrison Boulevard in the middle of the afternoon. He got into a confrontation with someone outside, and that person pulled out a gun and began shooting at him. Smith ran into an apartment in the block but had been shot repeatedly and died at Sinai Hospital less than an hour later. This is the second homicide in this block in just over a month.

Sunday, April 20

2:45 a.m. Stanley Johnson, a 25-year-old African-American man, was sitting on the front steps of a residence in the 3400 block of Sixth Street in Brooklyn when someone shot at him several times, hitting him in the head. Johnson died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center at 3:21 a.m.


On April 14, Alton Teel, a 43-year-old African-American man, was convicted of the murder of Daniel Savage, a 32-year-old African-American man. Savage was found lying in the street in the 1500 block of North Bradford Street shot in the head on Feb. 21, 2007. Teel was arrested six days later.

The state of Maryland dismissed the murder charges against Patrick Byers, a 23-year-old African-American man, on April 15. Byers was charged with the March 4, 2006, murder of Larry Haynes, a 30-year-old African-American man. Haynes was shot repeatedly in the head in East Baltimore. According to a statement by Joseph Sviatko, a spokesman for the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office, the charges were dropped because "[t]he main witness in this case was murdered and the state forfeiture-by-wrongdoing law sets a high threshold for introducing testimony of dead witnesses." Byers is being indicted on federal charges including murder and witness intimidation. According to Sviatko's statement, the "decision was based on the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office effort to seek the best possible jurisdiction to ensure a successful prosecution." The witness in the case, Carl Lackl, a 38-year-old Caucasian man, was shot to death outside his home in Baltimore County on July 2, 2007. The U.S. Attorney's Office has indicted four people, including Byers, for Lackl's murder. Byers allegedly offered to pay $2,500 for Lackl's murder. Lackl was killed by people pretending to be interested in buying a car he was selling.

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