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Murder Ink

By Anna Ditkoff | Posted 10/14/2009

Murders this Week: 5

Murders this Year: 176

Due to the Columbus Day holiday, this week's column only covers homicides from Oct. 5 to Oct. 9. Any additional homicides will be covered online at citypaper.com/go/murderink.

Editor's Note: (The last three homicides in the online version of this column were added after the paper went to press, so it differs from what appears in the print version. The number of murders for the week and the year have been updated as well.)

The death of Elda Vasquez, a 28-year-old Hispanic woman, was added to the homicide rolls this week. On the morning of Oct. 2, Verizon workers were in the 500 block of Benninghaus Road, a few blocks south of Belvedere Square, checking for leaks in underground phone lines. They removed a manhole and found Vasquez's body floating in the water below. She was dead, and her body was in a state of decomposition. The next day, Howard County Detective Tom Lau called the BPD's homicide unit. Lau read about the body, which at the time had not been identified, and thought it might be connected to a missing-persons case he was investigating because the body was found near the home of the missing woman's boyfriend. On Dec. 12, 2007 in Howard County, Vasquez reported being assaulted by her boyfriend, Victor Cruz. She said Cruz, who had threatened to kill her, hit her and dragged her into the woods. Then, Vasquez got a protective order against him. She was reported missing on Jan. 29, 2008. Her boss at a restaurant filed the report because Vasquez, who was a very reliable employee, had not shown up for work for two weeks and he could not reach her by phone.

Cruz was questioned at the time of the disappearance. Cell phone records showed that Cruz had called Vasquez repeatedly and that those calls ended abruptly after Jan. 22, 2008, the day she was last seen alive. Cruz, a 40-year-old Hispanic man, was arrested two days after Vasquez's body was found and allegedly confessed to murdering his former girlfriend. He hung himself in a cell at Central Booking the next night.

Monday, Oct. 5

8:26 p.m. Calvin Taylor, a 39-year-old African-American man, was shot in the head in the 2600 block of Mathews Street in Better Waverly. He was taken to a local hospital in critical condition and died the next day at 7:28 p.m. Both of the homicides counted toward this week so far were in the Northern Police District.

Saturday, Oct. 10

8:53 a.m. Damon Jackson, a 37-year-old African-American man, was in his home in the 1900 block of Oak Hill Avenue near Green Mount Cemetery. Two workers rehabbing another house Jackson owned contacted him and went to that house to meet them. After Jackson arrived a man entered the house and shot at Jackson. The man then ran out of the house. Jackson died at an area hospital a half-hour later.

1:06 p.m. Police found Alonzo Key, a 26-year-old African-American man, lying on the sidewalk in the 700 block of N. Kenwood Avenue in East Baltimore. Key had been shot several times and died at a local hospital at 2:16 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 11

12:30 a.m.Two African-American men in their 30s were shot in the 3700 block of Springdale Avenue off Garrison Boulevard. A 32-year-old was shot in the leg and survived. Dion Jones, a 35-year-old African-American man, was shot in the torso and died at an area hospital at 1:28 a.m.

Updates

There were two recent convictions in the murder of James Daniels, a 51-year-old African-American man. Edward Palmer, a 59-year-old African-American, was convicted of murdering Daniels on Sept. 30. Palmer's wife Catherine, A 47-year-old African-American woman, was convicted of being an accessory after the fact on Oct. 2. The couple rented an apartment from Daniels in the 600 block of Clinton Street. Daniels and Palmer got into a fight on April 11, 2008; Daniels was stabbed and beaten to death. The Palmers wrapped Daniels' body up the next day, dumped it, and set it on fire in a vacant lot in Essex. Edward Palmer has not been sentenced yet. Catherine Palmer received 18 months probation for her part in the crime.

A Baltimore City Grand Jury indicted Michael Ramseur, a 24-year-old African-American man, on Oct. 5 for the murder of George Williams, a 52-year-old African-American man. Ramseur allegedly severely beat Williams on Aug. 29, 2005 in the 1100 block of East Cold Spring Lane. According to witnesses, Ramseur attacked Williams in the parking lot of a convenient store and stole money and a cell phone from him. Williams died almost a year later on July 16, 2006 due to the beating. Ramseur moved to Florida and was recently brought to Maryland to face charges.

Gregory Tooson, a 35-year-old African-American man, was indicted by a Grand Jury on Oct. 6 for the murder of Melody Smith, a 54-year-old African-American woman. Smith's body was found partially undressed and severely decomposed in her living room in the 700 block of Yale Avenue on April 21, 2009. She died from asphyxiation and head trauma. Tooson and Smith were allegedly dating, but Smith was granted a protective order against Tooson the week before she died due domestic-violence complaints she made against him. Despite the order, witnesses say that Tooson sent Smith threatening e-mails.

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