- The Washington Times - Monday, July 17, 2006


Prisoner escapes during transport

A prisoner escaped from a transport vehicle yesterday morning, and police were still looking for him last night.

Police said James Bell, 34, kicked open the door of the vehicle in the 1300 block of Maryland Avenue Northeast. He was being moved from the 5th District police station to police headquarters.

Mr. Bell, who also goes by the first name Marcell, was arrested Saturday on charges of setting fire to a vehicle on L Street Northeast.

Police said Mr. Bell is black, about 6 feet tall and weighs 150 pounds. He has braided hair, a tombstone “RIP” tattoo on his upper right arm and a heart with the name “Tanya” in it on his upper left arm.

He was last seen wearing a black prison jumpsuit and plastic handcuffs.


Kidnapping suspect turns herself in

A Maryland woman police say kidnapped two Virginia children in her care turned herself in to police in Prince George’s County early yesterday morning.

Cpl. Mario Ellis of the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office said Stacy Smith, 40, surrendered at about 2 a.m. after an Amber Alert was issued when Amaya Marie Jasper, 11 months old, and Diyon Amante Jasper, 2, were reported missing in Madison County, Va. Miss Smith is a part-time caregiver for the children and the fiancee of their grandfather.

The children were found safe Sunday night at the home of a relative in Forestville.

Miss Smith is being held at the Prince George’s County jail awaiting extradition to Virginia.



Defense says police contaminated scene

Defense attorneys for two Mexican illegal aliens accused of nearly beheading three young relatives said yesterday that police falsely imprisoned the men the night of the slayings and intentionally contaminated the crime scene.

Attorneys for Adan Canela, 19, and Policarpio Espinoza Perez, 24, said police likely contaminated the crime scene where the children were found strangled, beaten and nearly decapitated in May 2004 because officers were not required to wear scrubs over their clothes or on their feet.

They also argued that police falsely imprisoned the men immediately after the slayings, separating them from their families and taking them into holding cells in the rear of a police station. They argued that police did not make it clear that the men could ask to leave at any time.

Sgt. Darryl Massey, a lead homicide detective who spent a second day on the witness stand yesterday, defended the Baltimore Police Department’s investigation.

Sgt. Massey said that police did not want the men to leave until they were questioned and that he “had no reason” to tell the men that their relatives were in a different part of the building.

He also told jurors that the evidence was not compromised because it is “extremely unusual” for officers to arrive at any crime scene in protective gear.

Mr. Canela and Mr. Perez’s first trial ended in a hung jury last year. They face life in prison if convicted.

Testimony continues today.


Civil rights charges added for officer

The U.S. Justice Department charged a former police officer with civil rights violations yesterday involving death threats they said he made against black schoolchildren and Hagerstown’s first black City Council member.

Jeffrey S. Shifler, 41, of Maugansville, was arrested in February on other charges regarding threatening letters and telephone calls that police said he made to 25 local people or institutions from August 2004 to February 2006. The former Hagerstown and Boonsboro police officer is being held without bail in federal custody.

The new charges announced in Baltimore by U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein and Assistant U.S. Attorney Wan J. Kim add another incident to the list — a phone call to the Washington County school board on Nov. 29, 2005, threatening to shoot black students at North Hagerstown and South Hagerstown high schools. Both schools were locked down after the call, and North High suspended after-school activities. Mr. Shifler was charged with interfering with public-school attendance.

He also was charged with interfering with housing after authorities said he left a voice message at the home of Hagerstown City Council member Alesia Parson-McBean, saying he was from the Ku Klux Klan and threatening to set fire to her house.

Each of the new charges carries 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The offenses with which Mr. Shifler previously was charged carry a combined penalty of 10 years.


Police seek suspect who stole a cruiser

Police have spent three days looking for a man they say stole a Frederick County deputy’s patrol car Saturday morning.

Cpl. Rudy Torres had handcuffed Daniel J. Cadden’s hands behind him and buckled him into the back seat of a Frederick County Sheriff’s Office cruiser after finding Mr. Cadden as the passenger of a car that had crashed along Harney Road near Emmitsburg about 7 a.m., Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said.

Mr. Cadden, 26, of Finksburg, was wanted in Carroll County for failing to appear for a court date, she said.

As Cpl. Torres investigated the crash, Mr. Cadden somehow climbed into the front seat and drove away, Cpl. Bailey said.

The patrol car was recovered about a mile away, but Mr. Cadden was still at large yesterday.


Derailed train causes rush-hour delays

A car of a CSX freight train derailed just before noon yesterday, causing some delays for MARC commuters last evening.

CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan said no one was hurt.

He did not know what caused the derailment, or how long the eastbound track will be closed.

The Maryland Transit Administration said the track was closed through yesterday evening’s rush hour. MARC trains were already operating at 20 mph below their normal speed because of heat restrictions.


Man gets 30 years for sex with girl, 5

A Bel Air man received a 30-year sentence for having sex with a 5-year-old girl and filming it, authorities said.

U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said Brian Dotson, 45, pleaded guilty to sexually exploiting a minor to produce child pornography.

The plea agreement said Dotson had sex with a 5-year-old girl over seven months last year. The agreement also said Dotson used a Web camera on his laptop to film the sex acts.

Police became aware of the crime after Dotson sold the laptop to a pawn shop. The new owner found the images and turned the computer over to police.


Tainted heroin found on Eastern Shore

Maryland State Police issued a warning yesterday about potentially lethal heroin on the Eastern Shore after tests revealed that heroin seized earlier this month contained the drug fentanyl.

Maryland authorities traced the most recent discovery of fentanyl-laced heroin to a July 3 incident in Kent County in which troopers responded to a report of a sick or injured person in a vehicle. Officers found a vehicle stopped on the roadside with an unconscious passenger.

The woman driving, Kathryn L. Hart, 23, of Chestertown, had called 911 after her passenger became unresponsive.

Investigators said that Miss Hart and the man, whose name was not released, were returning from Delaware after buying drugs and that both had ingested the heroin and alcohol.

Miss Hart was charged with drug possession. Her passenger also faces charges, authorities said.

Fentanyl has been linked to several drug overdoses, some fatal, throughout the Northeast and in parts of the Midwest this year.


Grant funds BWIstudy of quarantine facility

The state is getting a federal grant to study the feasibility of an animal quarantine area near Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said the nearest quarantine facilities for the export of horses and livestock are in New York and Florida. He said the distance makes international trade of the animals inconvenient and represents a lost economic opportunity for Maryland farmers.

The $42,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be used to determine whether opening the facility is feasible.



Naked man hits car with stolen pigeon

Police arrested a naked man clutching a pigeon he had been beating against a car.

Police said two Whaleyville residents had just pulled into their driveway Friday night when a man came up and started pounding the pigeon on their car.

The people went to a neighbor’s house and called police. Officers chased the man, identified as Juan Lopez, 30, of Virginia Beach, and caught him in nearby woods.

Lt. Debbie George, a police spokeswoman, said police discovered that Mr. Lopez had destroyed two of the homeowners’ bird cages, freeing 15 small chickens and four pigeons. Four birds were killed.

“I’m not sure whether he’s mentally disturbed or under the influence of narcotics, but he was obviously having some sort of issue that night,” Lt. George said.

Mr. Lopez was treated at a hospital for cuts and scratches. He was charged with burglary, destruction of property and larceny of poultry.


City fires leader of police union

The officer who heads the Falls Church police union was fired, and the union’s vice president was suspended after publicly discussing problems with their department’s ticket quotas and guns.

Starting in 2004, the union leaders complained that officers were being evaluated based partially on high traffic-ticket-writing quotas. The ticket quotas later were eliminated from evaluations.

Last year, the union went public with problems over the department’s new guns. They had tried to solve the problem internally. The guns eventually were replaced.

Officer Scott Rhodes, the union president, said he was given five reasons for his dismissal, unrelated to his public comments. He is appealing two of the reasons, and a third has been dropped.

Officer Markus Bristol has been suspended with pay but has not been given a reason.

Chief Robert T. Murray has declined to comment.


Preservationists buy Civil War battle site

Preservationists have bought a piece of land in the Shenandoah Valley that was the site of a Civil War battle — to protect the property from development.

The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation bought 100 acres in the Tom’s Brook area, about 25 miles southwest of Winchester.

John Hutchinson, the foundation’s program manager for resource protection, said the organization bought the property from private landowners for $1.31 million. He said they worked out a preservation plan with landowners and the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors.

The Jordon Run area was at the center of fighting during the Battle of Tom’s Brook on Oct. 9, 1864. Union cavalry defeated a Confederate cavalry force during the federal campaign to take the valley and break southern fighting morale in the region.

The foundation manages a national historic district that includes properties in eight counties and four cities in western Virginia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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