- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

BALTIMORE — The 27-year-old man arrested yesterday in the killing of Silver Spring resident and Johns Hopkins student Linda Trinh was known to the victim and her friends, police said.

Detective Maj. Richard C. Fahlteich of the Baltimore City Police Department identified the suspect as Donta M. Allen and said he was “very close friends with one of [Miss Trinh’s] sorority sisters.”

However, he said Mr. Allen was “not a welcome guest.”

Maj. Fahlteich also said Mr. Allen had access to the off-campus apartment building in which Miss Trinh was found dead Jan. 23.

One of Miss Trinh’s two roommates, also members of the Alpha Phi sorority, found her in their apartment in a high-rise building in the 3000 block of North Charles Street. Police found no signs of a forced entry.

Miss Trinh was found facedown in a half-filled bathtub. A medical examiner declared the death an asphyxiated homicide. Police found a bruise on Miss Trinh’s cheek, which they now say was from a fall. They also said yesterday that Miss Trinh had not been sexually assaulted.

Miss Trinh, 21, was a straight-A student at Springbrook High School in White Oak and graduated in 2001. She was a biomedical engineering student at Hopkins and played on the women’s volleyball team until fall 2002.

“Obviously, I’m quite relieved” about the arrest, Hopkins President William R. Brody said. “I was concerned, as many of the students were, that we might have a killer running in our midst.”

Last summer, Miss Trinh, a senior, made her first trip to her parents homeland of Vietnam. Upon returning, she switched her major from medicine, so she could work on a cure for life-threatening illnesses afflicting impoverished countries.

Police said that they have sufficient evidence in the case and that DNA findings led to the arrest. However, they still do not know why Miss Trinh was killed.

“We have no idea what the motive was,” Maj. Fahlteich said.

Warren Brown, Mr. Allen’s attorney, said his client has nothing in his background to indicate that he would be involved in such a crime. He also said Mr. Allen told police that he had used Miss Trinh’s telephone the day before she was found dead.

Detective Antonio Williams said he arrested Mr. Allen at about 10:15 a.m. at a residence in the 3000 block of Matthews Street — in the Waverly neighborhood near old Memorial Stadium and about 10 blocks from Miss Trinh’s apartment.

He said Mr. Allen lives with his mother, but did not know whether he has a job. Police said he had two prior arrests — on charges of drug possession and malicious destruction of property. They also said no additional suspects are being sought in the case.

The homicide was the second in nine months of a Hopkins student in the Charles Village community, on the east side of the midtown campus.

Hopkins junior Christopher Elser, 20, was killed April 17 inside a fraternity house in the 2900 block of St. Paul Street. The case has not been solved, but police said they are not connected. Mr. Brody yesterday offered a $50,000 reward in the case.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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