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20060914: Serial Killer, Rapist Sentenced To Life Without Parole
Convicted serial killer and rapist Raymont Hopewell, 35, was sentenced Thursday to life without the possibility of parole for a series of attacks, mostly on elderly women, that terrorized the west Baltimore neighborhood where he grew up.
Hopewell issued a half-hearted apology after listening to statements from two women who survived his attacks and relatives of his murder victims.
He pleaded guilty to five counts of murder, four counts of rape and various other crimes and was sentenced to four consecutive life terms.
"I just want to tell everybody that I'm sorry for their losses," said Hopewell, who sat slumped in his chair through much of the sentencing hearing.
Rose Ellen McDavid, an elderly woman who was raped by Hopewell and whose description to a police sketch artist led to his arrest, described the attack in harrowing detail and said she thought he would kill her.
She credited her faith for saving her life.
"God used me as an instrument to stop his rampage of rape, murder and evil deeds," McDavid said.
State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy, who rarely seeks the death penalty, offered the plea deal after consulting with the victims' families, said a spokeswoman for Jessamy.
Many, but not all, said they would prefer a swift sentence of life without parole to a drawn-out series of death penalty appeals.
The state offered the plea deal in August and Hopewell pleaded guilty the next day.
"Had he not done that, the state was prepared to seek the death penalty," Burns said.
20060914: Hopewell sentenced in rapes, murders
| As Raymont Hopewell finished saying he was sorry to the families of the five elderly men and women he has confessed to killing, some audible sighs filled the packed courtroom Thursday. Some people fidgeted in their seats, while others murmured displeasure at what they felt was an insincere apology.
Hopewell's statement, in its entirety: "I just wanted to tell everybody that I'm sorry for their losses."
The killer stared straight ahead as he uttered the words, his face expressionless. For the still-grieving families who sat just feet away, the words were not enough to ease their pain or explain the brutal murders of five defenseless people.
"To hear him say that in such a callous manner, he really shouldn't have said anything at all," said Isaiah Carter, grandson of Lydia Wingfield, one of Hopewell's victims. "It was very fake, unreal. The guy wasn't sorry."
Cecelia Smith, who found the body of her mother, Constance Wills, 60, bound and strangled in February 1999, did not feel Hopewell's single remark was good enough. "I don't think that it meant anything," Smith said.
Hopewell pleaded guilty in August to five murders, four rapes and other crimes, a deal that allowed him to escape the death penalty. As part of the agreement, Judge John M. Glynn sentenced him to four consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole.
The 35-year-old defendant, wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and white sneakers, rarely made eye contact with anyone other than his lawyer and appeared agitated while others spoke, including two victims who survived their attacks.
Rosellen McDavid, 63, said Hopewell broke into her home, ordered her down into her cellar and raped her. McDavid, who uses a cane to walk, went into further detail outside of the courthouse. She agreed to publicize her name.
McDavid said she talked to Hopewell during the assault, asking how he would feel if someone was doing this to his mother. "He said, my mother is dead," McDavid said.
"I still have flashbacks. It's the most dramatic thing I've ever had to go through."
Elenora Askins-McGee told the court of her encounter last September with Hopewell, one where she was stabbed multiple times. She still cannot use her right thumb.
"He's got me so afraid, I'm afraid to sleep in my house," Askins-McGee said. "I'm afraid to not sleep in my house. And I'd never been a person to be afraid of anything."
Askins-McGee said she has since dyed her hair from gray to black because she does not want people to think she is old. "I was afraid that if somebody would see I was gray-haired, they would attack me again."
Askins-McGee, 55, said Hopewell broke into her house through her kitchen window, grabbed her from behind and put a knife to her throat. Recounting the story for the second time outside of the courtroom, Askins-McGee said Hopewell was in her home long enough to drink three cans of soda and eat a loaf of bread.
She said Hopewell told her multiple times that he had planned to kill her and her husband, who was also in the house. But Askins-McGee said she was twice able to physically keep Hopewell at bay until he eventually left.
"My mother used to say I have a strong mean streak, and it came out that day," she said.
As the nearly three-dozen family members and friends of the victims filed out of the courthouse, most were pleased that Hopewell will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Ivan Wingfield, son of Lydia Wingfield, was one of the few dissenters.
Wingfield had wanted prosecutors to seek the death penalty and he reiterated his stance during his courtroom testimony. Prosecutors could have sought the death penalty in four of the killings because they were committed alongside other felonies such as rape and burglary.
Hopewell's other murder victims were Sarah Shannon, 88; Sadie Mack, 78; and Carlton Crawford, 82.
"Because of what this person has done to my mother, he has torn this family apart," Wingfield said. "For him to live the rest of his life, I'm not happy at all."
Added Wingfield as he left the building, "I have my Christian beliefs as well. But the death penalty is warranted."
Police documents show DNA evidence linking Hopewell to all five killings and a confession to the Crawford murder last summer. Prosecutors said in a hearing last month that Hopewell left behind semen in the bodies of his rape victims and saliva on soda cans.
Hopewell was arrested and charged in the Crawford killing Sept. 20. Connections to the other deaths were made through DNA database hits.
He had previously been arrested for drug possession, theft, burglary, battery and failure to appear in court.
"My reaction to this is it wasn't enough," said Carter, Wingfield's grandson. "The bottom line is, we're being punished by having our tax dollars pay for this man. This whole thing is horrendous."
20060812: Relatives of victims react to plea deal
|Sons and daughters, grandchildren and nieces, they filled the courtroom benches yesterday, steeling themselves to hear about the anguished last moments in the lives of the aged relatives whom they loved.
"Remember us," one lady hissed as Raymont Hopewell entered the courtroom in shackles and chains. Her family shushed her.
Hopewell had come to this Baltimore Circuit Court hearing to admit his guilt in a series of crimes that spanned from 1999 to last September. It took three prosecutors and 45 minutes to describe the rapes, murders, robberies and assaults.
Some relatives sat with their heads bowed and hands folded. Some relatives trained their eyes on Hopewell, trying to assess his stoicism.
Prosecutors described the deaths of Constance Wills, 60; Sarah Shannon, 88; Sadie Mack, 78; Carlton Crawford, 82; and Lydia Wingfield, 78. Three of the women had been raped. All had been strangled or smothered.
Hearing the recitation of his mother's rape and death was "painful, in a way," said Jerrold C. Wingfield. "But I felt a source of some kind of a relief. Now he has answered to his crimes instead of saying 'not guilty.'"
Next, a prosecutor recounted the Sept. 2 rape of a 63-year-old woman in her West Baltimore home. The victim prayed aloud for her attacker.
"You wouldn't want this to happen to your mother," the prosecutor said the woman told the attacker.
Hopewell's final crimes, police believe, were a pair of terrifying home-invasion robberies Sept. 8 and 10.
A 55-year-old woman and 61-year-old man went inside their Spaulding Avenue home after an evening on their front porch to find a man hiding in the kitchen.
The couple tried to barricade themselves in the bathroom, but the man stuck his foot in the door to keep them from closing it. He stabbed both of them in the hands and stole money and credit cards. The husband had a heart attack, the prosecutor said.
Two days later, Hopewell used one of the stolen credit cards in a ruse to talk his way into the Fernhill Avenue home of a 76-year-old woman, who had had two recent strokes, and her 80-year-old husband, who has Alzheimer's disease.
He stabbed the woman's hand, and when a 67-year-old woman who also lived there returned home, he stabbed her, too.
Prosecutors gave details about the DNA evidence Hopewell left behind - semen in the bodies of his rape victims, saliva on cigarette butts and soda cans, skin cells on a shoelace used to tie up Mack.
The defense attorney said he had "no additions or corrections" to what prosecutors had recited.
Hopewell, a 35-year-old whose short dreadlocks are specked with gray, made no statements yesterday, giving just yes and no answers to questions by the defense attorney and judge.
He said he understood when his lawyer told him the plea "in all circumstances is going to result in your incarceration for the rest of your life."
Hopewell could have faced the death penalty in four of the killings because they were committed alongside other felonies, such as rape and burglary. Instead, he will receive four consecutive terms of life without parole and other prison time.
When the hearing was over, sheriff's deputies and correctional officers escorted Hopewell outside to a waiting prison van. He has been behind bars since his arrest in September.
The victims' relatives - about two dozen of them - streamed into the courthouse hallway. Some said they had wished for a trial, and for the death penalty. Some said they were glad of the finality.
"Now he can't hurt any other families," said Lolita Horton, Wills' granddaughter. "We're just so happy that it's over."
The Wills children and grandchildren had known Hopewell as a child, when he was considered part of their family. They hadn't seen him in years.
Horton said the death penalty would have been pointless: "His life is gone to me."
Added Cecelia Smith, who found the body of her mother, Constance Wills: "I'm satisfied. This gives me closure. I'd rather have him suffer in there with no light than get the death penalty."
Jerrold Wingfield, who also knew Hopewell as a child, said he felt no closure because his mother had died "at the hands of a predator." But he took a small measure of peace in knowing Hopewell "will not be able to enjoy freedom."
John Mack said he had hoped for a trial to find out more about how and why Hopewell had picked his mother. She had lived in her house for 50 years, and for a time, Hopewell had lived just two blocks away. But nobody in the Mack family had ever met him, John Mack said.
"A trial would have answered some of our questions," he said. "I don't feel like this is the best for our family, but I guess this is what had to happen."
Reached yesterday evening at home, Ivan Wingfield, who found his mother's body, said he had been too upset about the plea deal to come to court. Wingfield said it is unfair that Hopewell had the choice to live when his five murder victims had no such choice.
"He should suffer," Wingfield said. "He shouldn't have even had the right to a plea bargain."
Hopewell is to be sentenced Sept. 14.
The relatives will return to the courtroom in which they sat somberly and quietly yesterday. But this time, it will be their turn to talk.
20060811: Guilty plea seen in killings
|Raymont Hopewell, accused of being a serial killer who preyed mostly on the elderly, appears ready to plead guilty today in Baltimore Circuit Court to five murders, four rapes and other crimes, defense and prosecution sources confirmed last night.
The plea deal would allow Hopewell, 35, to avoid the death penalty. But it would aim to ensure he is never released from prison by convicting him of at least one count in every crime with which he is charged and sentencing him to one of the longest prison terms any city prosecutor can remember.
If he accepts the deal, Hopewell would be sentenced in a hearing next month to four consecutive terms of life without parole and other prison time. He has been behind bars since his arrest in September.
Assistant State's Attorney Matthew Fraling and defense attorney Richard C.B. Woods have worked out the detailed arrangement over the past few months. A hearing is scheduled today before Circuit Judge John M. Glynn, who is aware of the negotiations.
Hopewell's plea comes at a crucial moment. He is scheduled for trial Sept. 14, and, by law, prosecutors must notify him at least 30 days in advance if they intend to seek the death penalty. If today's deal falls apart, prosecutors still have time to do that.
Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, unlike her counterparts in surrounding counties, rarely seeks the death penalty. However, at least four of the five murders with which Hopewell is charged are capital crimes because they were committed alongside another felony.
It is unclear why Hopewell appears willing to plead guilty. Reached yesterday, neither Woods nor Fraling would comment. A court gag order is in place.
A review of police documents shows that DNA evidence linking Hopewell to all five killings, three of which involved rape, and the rape of a woman who lived, appears strong. DNA also was recovered at the sites of the other two killings, according to police.
In addition, police documents show, Hopewell confessed to killing 82-year-old Carlton Crawford last summer, the sole known male victim, though he said it was an accident. He also told police he was at the scene of 78-year-old Lydia Wingfield's rape and killing last summer, though he said he did not commit those crimes
The crime spree targeted older people - most of whom had some connection to him or his family.
His victims would willingly let him in, and, once inside, he seemed to take his time, police documents show. It appears he used a knife to threaten residents.
Some victims were bound at the ankles and wrists, and some were sexually assaulted. Hopewell smoked cigarettes and drank beverages inside the homes. Sometimes he left with a television, other electronics or jewelry, the documents show.
Police have said they investigated other deaths that seemed to fit Hopewell's pattern, but he has not been charged in any additional crimes since being indicted in January on the charges tied to today's expected guilty plea.
The first attack with which Hopewell is charged was on a woman he had met through her grandson.
Constance Wills, 60, was bound and strangled in February 1999 in her Ellamont Avenue home in West Baltimore. She had been raped.
Next came a woman who was friends with and a neighbor of Hopewell's mother.
Sarah Shannon, 88, was bound and strangled Nov. 30, 2002, in her bedroom at Greenhill Apartments on Violet Avenue. She, too, had been raped.
More than two years later, a 78-year-old woman was found dead in her home on North Gilmore Street in Sandtown, two blocks from where Hopewell once lived.
Sadie Mack's wrists had been bound with shoelaces. Police believe Hopewell strangled her May 27, 2005, with his bare hands.
On Aug. 21, police say Hopewell entered a Greenspring Avenue apartment, in the building where the mother of his children used to live.
Hopewell is charged with beating to death Carlton Crawford, 82, who was deaf, and robbing a 31-year-old deaf man who interrupted the attack.
Nine days later, Hopewell is said to have knocked on the door of an older woman on Mount Holly Street, a woman he'd known when he lived in that area as a child.
Lydia Wingfield, 78, was raped and strangled Aug. 30 in her longtime home.
On Sept. 2, a 63-year-old woman was attacked at knifepoint in her West Baltimore home. Her hands were bound with green ribbons and a tailor's measuring tape. She was left alive.
Less than a week later, on Sept. 8, a 55-year-old woman and 61-year-old man were threatened with a knife and attacked in their home on Spaulding Avenue. Two days later, a 67-year-old woman, 80-year-old man and 76-year-old woman were threatened with a knife and attacked in their Fernhill Avenue home.
Hopewell was arrested Sept. 20 and charged with the Crawford killing. Soon after, one of Wingfield's relatives was able to link Hopewell to her death. More connections were made through DNA database hits.
20060811: Serial Killer Pleads Guilty To Five Murders, Four Rapes
|A man accused of killing five mostly elderly people since 1999 plead guilty Friday to murder rape and other offenses in connection with the crimes.
Raymont Hopewell, 35. pled guilty to five murders, four rapes and other crimes to avoid the death penalty. Under terms of the plea agreement, Judge John M. Glynn will sentence Hopewell to four consecutive life without possibility of parole prison terms at a Sept. 14 sentencing hearing. He also faces numerous other concurrent sentences, including life and several 25-year and 20-year prison terms.
Hopewell was charged with first-degree murder and assault in the murders. The victims ranged in age from 60 to 88.
Hopewell, who has a history of arrests for burglary, theft, drug possession and other charges, was convicted on a drug-dealing charge in 2004 and given an 18-month sentence. He walked away from a halfway house in Southwest Baltimore.
He was arrested in September in the Aug. 21, 2005 death of Carlton Crawford, 82, a deaf man who was beaten and strangled. Hopewell was indicted in January in the February 1999 rape and murder of Constance Wills, 61; the November 2002 rape and murder of Sarah Shannon, 88; the May 2005 murder of Sadie Mack, 78; and the August 2005 rape and murder of Lydia Wingfield, 78.
Police documents show that DNA evidence links Hopewell to all five killings, three of which involved rape, and the rape of a woman who lived. DNA also was recovered at the sites of the other two killings, police said.
The crime spree targeted older people - most of whom had a connection to Hopewell or his family.
His victims would willingly let him in, police said, and, once inside, he used a knife to threaten residents.
20060613: Murder trial rescheduled
|The trial of Raymont Hopewell, a Baltimore man charged in the killing five elderly women between 1999 and August last year, was postponed until Sept. 14 after a brief court hearing yesterday.
Hopewell, 35, had been scheduled to stand trial next month.
His attorney, Richard C.B. Woods, requested that Circuit Judge John M. Glynn postpone the trial, saying the defense's DNA expert needs more time to review the evidence.
Assistant State's Attorney Matthew Fraling said the state was ready for trial but that he understood the need for a postponement.
20051222: Murder case gets gag order
|Prosecutors cannot publicly discuss details on drifter accused of killing 5
A man charged with killing five mostly elderly people since 1999 was ordered held without bail yesterday while, hours later, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge issued a ruling prohibiting prosecutors from making public comments in the high-profile case.
Richard Woods, the public defender for Raymont Hopewell, said a gag order was necessary to preserve his client's right to an impartial city jury.
The case has generated intense media attention because of the age of the victims and the nature of the crimes. Hopewell is accused of killing a woman in 1999, another woman in 2002 and two women and a man this year. He also is charged with raping another woman and invading two homes. All of the victims lived on the city's west and northwest sides.
Yesterday's motion by the public defender targeted specific comments by Maj. Richard Fahlteich, commander of the Police Department's homicide unit. In an address to reporters Monday, Fahlteich said detectives "have absolutely, positively indisputable evidence that [Hopewell] is the sole suspect."
Woods wrote in his motion that the city state's attorney's office has a responsibility to prevent comments that "taint the jury pool."
But so far, the gag order applies only to the state's attorney's office. To prevent police officials from making public comments about the case, the public defender's office would have to file another motion that specifically names the department.
Woods declined to comment yesterday.
The gag order, issued by Judge John M. Glynn, came hours after Hopewell appeared in court for a bail hearing. Correctional officers escorted the suspect, wearing a bright-yellow jumpsuit and shackled in chains, into a small courtroom at the Central Booking and Intake Center, where a judge ordered him held without bail on charges involving three of the killings and the rape.
Hopewell, 34, did not say a word during the hearing, which began shortly after 11 a.m. and lasted about five minutes. His public defender at the hearing, Natalie Finegar, did not protest his no-bail status before District Judge Charlotte M. Cooksey.
Assistant State's Attorney David Chiu told the judge that Hopewell posed "a continuing and extreme risk to public safety."
Hopewell was the sole defendant ushered into the Central Booking courtroom, where suspects are usually escorted in groups of 10 or more for bail hearings.
He was the first defendant to have a bail review yesterday, and correctional officers seated him in the last row, away from reporters, who were told to sit at the front of the courtroom.
Hopewell has a history of arrests for burglary, theft, drug possession and other charges. He was found guilty on a drug-dealing charge last year and given an 18-month sentence. He walked away from a halfway house in Southwest Baltimore where he had been ordered to stay, and state corrections officials issued a warrant for his arrest.
But authorities never caught up with him again until his arrest Sept. 21, when he was charged in the death of Carlton Crawford, 82, who had been found beaten and strangled in a Northwest Baltimore apartment complex one month before.
Police said that they then linked the suspect with DNA to the slaying of Lydia R. Wingfield, 78, who was killed Aug. 30, and charged him with that killing last week. Hopewell had been held without bail for those two slayings when police filed a rape charge and three additional charges of murder this week.
The rape of a 63-year-old woman occurred Sept. 2. The other victims he is accused of killing are Constance Wills, 60, in 1999; Sarah Shannon, 88, in 2002; and Sadie L. Mack, 78, in May.
Authorities said they are continuing to investigate other cases for possible connections to Hopewell.
Hopewell's first trial date is scheduled for Feb. 24, according to the city state's attorney's office.
20051221: Survivor describes struggle for her life
|Intruder told woman: 'I'm here to kill you and your husband'
Amelia Gertrude Tabron remembers vividly the words spoken by the man who showed up at her Northwest Baltimore doorstep Sept. 10.
"I'm here to kill you and your husband," Tabron, 76, recalled yesterday, sitting in the dining room of the Fernhill Avenue house she has called home for more than three decades.
"He opened the door and those were the first words out of his mouth," she said slowly, her speech affected by two recent strokes.
"I'll never forget that."
They survived -- Amelia Tabron and her husband, Thomas, 80, who suffers from dementia -- enduring a brief struggle in which a butcher knife sliced her left hand.
At least five others -- elderly women and a man, vulnerable, much like them -- did not survive attacks.
Raymont Hopewell, 34, has been charged with killing five people ages 60 to 88, some of whom he knew from the various neighborhoods in which he lived. He has a bail hearing scheduled for today.
Two of the slayings occurred in 1999 and 2002, but other crimes were more recent -- three killings and two home invasions between May and September -- a chilling trail of beatings and strangulations in the city's west and northwest.
"We are very, very grateful that there weren't more victims out there," said Maj. Richard Fahlteich, commander of the homicide unit. But, Fahlteich added, investigators will continue to examine evidence from other cases for possible links.
Yesterday, police added another crime to the list. They charged Hopewell with the Sept. 2 rape of a 63-year-old woman who was attacked at knifepoint in the basement of her West Baltimore home, her hands later tied behind her back with green ribbon and measuring tape.
Before the attack, court documents say, the man stood in the woman's kitchen and drank three Diet Cokes and a bottle of apple juice. He left with the woman's television set.
Tabron, a devout Baptist, said: "I was one of the blessed ones that made it. It was the grace of God. He was protecting us."
Hopewell didn't know the Tabrons. At least three of the people he is charged with attacking he had apparently known or seen years before. Those people ended up dead.
Lydia Wingfield, a 78-year-old woman who police believe was killed by Hopewell on Aug. 30, has a son who recalls growing up with Hopewell in a West Baltimore neighborhood, riding bikes and playing hide-and-seek together. The suspect told Wingfield he knew her son when he confronted her in the house, court documents say.
Sarah Shannon, 88, lived across the hall from Hopewell's mother in a Northwest Baltimore apartment building, and family members say the man visited his mother often. And relatives of 60-year-old Constance Wills, who police say was killed in 1999, said Hopewell attended their family gatherings and played with the victim's grandson.
"It was sad to know that it was someone we knew," Wills' granddaughter, Lolita Horton, said yesterday. "What caused him to do that? I want know why."
The killings began -- as far as police know -- in February 1999. Wills and her relatives had known Hopewell for years. Her family even has a photo of Hopewell, taken during a birthday party.
When Wills was killed -- she was found lying on a bed of a second-floor bedroom, dead from asphyxiation -- relatives said they suspected that the killer was someone who knew her. Police charging documents say that DNA evidence led detectives to their suspect.
Hopewell had lived with one of Wills' daughters for a period of several months. But she kicked him out him out when he ran up a phone bill, according to Cecelia Smith, another of Wills' daughters.
It has been about a decade since the two families last met.
"We called him our cousin," Smith said yesterday, recalling the tight bond she once had with her mother's killer. "He was at my mother's alleged house for birthdays and holidays. It's hard because you wouldn't think that someone you trust with your family would hurt you like that."
Three years after Wills was killed, on Nov. 30, 2002, police found Sarah Shannon strangled in a bedroom at a Northwest Baltimore apartment building. Hopewell's mother -- Carlita Bayton -- lived across the hall from Shannon at the time, and residents at the building said they remember seeing Hopewell hanging around.
A careful woman
Hopewell never lived there, though he listed the address as a residence at one point. Shannon, who stood 6 feet tall, was careful about her own security, residents of the apartment building said yesterday. Police told residents there was no sign of forced entry.
"She wouldn't have let anyone into her apartment," said Bertha Gray, 82, a close friend of Shannon's who lived on the same floor. "We couldn't understand how someone got in there."
For three more years, Hopewell continued to float around Baltimore. He was convicted on a drug-dealing charge and began serving an 18-month sentence in July last year. A month later, he walked away from a halfway house in Southwest Baltimore, where he had been placed to serve his time.
A Division of Correction spokeswoman said yesterday that a "retake" warrant was issued for Hopewell's arrest, but authorities didn't catch up with him.
Hopewell's mother died on Dec. 26, 2004, after suffering an intracranial hemorrhage, according to the state medical examiner's office. On May 27 this year, Sadie L. Mack, a 78-year-old great-grandmother and widow who lived alone in the Sandtown neighborhood, was found strangled in her bedroom, with her hands bound.
Three months later, on Aug. 21, Carlton Crawford was found beaten and strangled on the floor of a room in the Louis W. Foxwell Memorial Apartments for the handicapped in Northwest Baltimore. The 82-year-old man, who was hard of hearing, was the sole male fatality linked to the case; court documents say his attacker locked the door to the room.
Court documents say that another man was attacked in the complex the same day and that the victim fought back.
Hopewell had been on the apartment building's list of people barred from entering the complex, due to an unspecified incident, court documents show.
Crawford once lived two blocks away from another victim, Mack, in the 1980s, according to property records. Police say they haven't found evidence that Hopewell knew Mack before her killing.
Nine days after Crawford's slaying, Lydia R. Wingfield was found dead in her home in the 2700 block of Mount Holly St. She had been strangled. A son says he remembers growing up and playing with Hopewell, who went by the nickname "Money."
Police say the attacks continued into September, until investigators were able to link the man to Crawford's death. Hopewell was arrested Sept. 21 and charged in that killing. Last week, he was charged in Wingfield's slaying, followed by charges this week for the killings of Wills, Shannon and Mack.
But authorities believe he carried out more attacks in September before he was arrested.
In addition to the Sept. 2 rape, for which he was charged yesterday, Hopewell also faces charges stemming from two home invasions that occurred Sept. 9 and Sept. 10.
Police have charged him with breaking into a Spaulding Avenue home about 11 p.m. Sept. 9 by cutting a screen in a rear kitchen window.
Police said the attacker knocked down a 55-year-old woman, cut her right hand with a knife and demanded $150. He also cut the hand of her companion, a 61-year-old man, before fleeing when he realized the woman had called police, according to court documents.
Tabron was attacked a day later. But the victim said Hopewell had visited three days earlier, Sept. 7. He knocked on the door and was let in by her husband as she prepared for a Labor Day cookout. When she walked into the living room, she saw her husband sitting his usual chair and a stranger sitting in across from him on their couch.
"I said, 'Can I help you?'" she recalled. "He said, 'I know your husband. I'm here for dinner.' ... he seemed very nice."
About 10 minutes later, she said, her niece came downstairs and asked who the man was. "I said I don't know and she told him to leave," said Tabron. A police report quotes the niece saying, "Get the hell out!"
Police said the man returned Sept. 10. The Tabrons were home alone, and Tabron said she answered a doorbell. The man said the woman's niece had dropped her credit card, and then he forced the door open and uttered the words that froze her in fear.
"He said he was going to kill me and my husband," she said. "I said, 'Why are you doing this?' He said he wanted money. I said, 'You want money. I'll give you what you want.'"
The man pulled a long butcher knife from a bag, Tabron said. She tried to grab it but he snatched it back, slicing her left hand from the thumb and across the span of her palm.
Blood dripped on her carpet. She fell over, or he pushed her -- she can't remember which.
The man scuffled with her husband, who suffered minor cuts on his face and hand, according to the police report.
He took some money from Tabron's purse, which was sitting on the dining room table. Her niece then returned and called police after another struggle.
Amelia Tabron has since suffered from two strokes and kidney failure that kept her hospitalized for three weeks.
"Now, my nerves," she said, pausing, "They're shocked. I'm dealing with ... I'm jittery. My nerves are very bad."
20051220: Drifter charged in 5 city killings
|The body of Sadie L. Mack, 78, was found in the bedroom of her West Baltimore home in May, her hands bound. Carlton Crawford, 82, was beaten to death in August in his room at an apartment complex for the disabled. Lydia R. Wingfield, 78, was strangled 10 days later in her home.
Yesterday, city police said that one man - a 34-year-old drifter with a lengthy criminal record - is responsible for a disturbing series of killings of mostly elderly residents of West and Northwest Baltimore since 1999 - victims that authorities described as "defenseless."
Raymont Hopewell has been charged with five counts of murder, and police say they are investigating other cases. He also has been charged with five counts of attempted murder stemming from two home invasions in September.
Police began exploring the series of killings after Hopewell was arrested in September as a suspect in Crawford's death.
Detectives said they linked the man further with the help of a phone call that Wingfield made to her son shortly before she was killed, which implicated the suspect through his nickname, as well as DNA and other forensic evidence.
Maj. Richard Fahlteich, commander of the homicide unit, said police "have absolutely, positively indisputable evidence that [Hopewell] is the sole suspect."
One woman was killed in 1999, another in 2002 and three more people this year. The victims' ages ranged from 60 to 88. The man was beaten; the others were strangled. Police said they were not sure how the killer got into most of the homes.
Fahlteich said police were still investigating possible motives. Some cases might have involved the theft of money or possessions, but the reasons for other killings are not clear, the major said.
Hopewell, who has been held in jail since his arrest in September, was taken from city police headquarters yesterday and returned to the Central Booking and Intake Center, where he is being held without bail.
He wore a gray long-sleeve shirt, blue jeans and white sneakers. He kept his head down and did not respond to questions from reporters as three detectives escorted him to a police van.
According to court records, Hopewell has lived at 11 different addresses over the past 13 years, including the same apartment building as one victim killed in 2002 - the Greenhill Apartments, a complex for the elderly and disabled, in the 2500 block of Violet Ave. in Park Heights.
His prior arrests include charges for drug possession, theft, burglary, battery and failure to appear in court.
Wingfield's son, Jerrold C. Wingfield, 36, said the family is relieved by the arrest. "We're gonna see this thing through, all the way to the end," he said. "He should get the fullest extent of the law, whatever the law deems he should get, he should get."
Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for the city state's attorney's office, said that prosecutors are pursuing the penalty of life without parole in one of two murder cases that they have reviewed.
Burns said she could not comment on whether the office would pursue the death penalty, saying that prosecutors still need to examine the three additional charges.
Police said the killings started six years ago:
# Constance Willis, 60, was found dead in her home in the 1100 block of N. Ellamont Ave. in West Baltimore on Feb. 22, 1999. Little information was immediately available about Willis' case, and her relatives could not be located last night.
# Sarah Shannon, 88, was found strangled in bedroom at the Greenhill Apartments on Nov. 30, 2002. At one time, Hopewell had listed the apartment building as his home address in court records, though it was unclear whether he lived in the building at the time of the Shannon's death.
# Sadie L. Mack, a 78-year-old widow who was known as "Miss Sadie" to many in her Sandtown neighborhood, was found dead in her house in the 1600 block of N. Gilmor on May 27. The mother of seven grown children had lived alone after her husband's death three years ago, though her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren frequently visited her.
Her body was found by one of her sons in her first-floor bedroom. She had been strangled and her hands were bound, family members said. "She loved this neighborhood," Roy Mack, 50, one of her sons, told The Sun in June. "She never felt like she wasn't safe."
Carlton Crawford, 82, was found beaten on Aug. 21 in the Louis W. Foxwell Memorial Apartments for the handicapped in the 3700 block of Greenspring Ave., Northwest Baltimore. A security guard investigating a noise complaint found him on the floor of his room. He had lived there since the early 1980s and had no relatives, police said.
Police charging documents show that Crawford died from blunt force trauma and asphyxiation. Over the next several weeks, police said, they developed enough information to lead them to Hopewell, including finding a witness who identified the man - but knew him under the alias Kent Fisher - as a possible suspect in Crawford's homicide.
# Lydia R. Wingfield, 78, was found strangled in her home in the 2700 block of Mount Holly St. on Aug. 31. Her son found her lying on the living room floor, and in charging documents, police reported recovering "physical evidence" from the scene. They did not provide details.
Police said they issued a warrant for Hopewell's arrest, charging him with Crawford's death, and arrested him Sept. 20.
But it was the killing of Wingfield that police said broke the case open.
On the day she died, Wingfield called her son, Jerrold, and told him that a man who called himself "Money" had come to her door and asked for Jerrold Wingfield, telling the woman that he had grown up with her son.
Wingfield told his mother that he didn't know anyone by that nickname.
A friend told him a man nicknamed "Money" did exist and the nickname referred to Hopewell.
Wingfield said he approached police again with the new information.
Wingfield said yesterday that he remembered playing with Hopewell as a child, riding bikes together and playing hide-and-seek.
"I just remember him as a kid," Wingfield said in an interview yesterday. "I never seen him as an adult. As a kid, I don't remember him being a troublemaker. He was a good friend."
In court charging documents, police say that Hopewell admitted being present in Wingfield's home "around the time" she called her son.
A police crime lab technician took a photo of a tattoo on Hopewell's arm, which reads: "Money," charging documents said.
|Copyright 1995-2006 by Elisabeth Wetsch