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25 Years Ago: Six people killed tragically in Harford

BY ERIKA BUTLER, ebutler@theaegis.com

9:35 AM EST, January 22, 2013

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From The Aegis dated Jan. 28, 1988:

Six people died in Harford County 25 years ago this week, one of the deadliest police could remember.

Three children of a Joppatowne woman died when her car ran off Route 7 and into an abandoned quarry in White Marsh. The woman's children drowned in the quarry; she was facing drinking and driving charges.

The other three people died by homicide.

In once incident, a veteran Aberdeen Police Department officer allegedly shot a friend, a 35-year-old apartment rental office employee with an automatic weapon, pumping "multiple" rounds into the woman.

"He was smiling like he always does. He's always friendly. I was heading out to lunch as he was heading in and we said 'hello.' I could tell that anything was going to happen," another rental office employee said.

A 17-year-old Edgewood High School student, described as a promising athlete, died 25 years ago this week, days after another teenager stabbed him multiple times in the chest during a fracas at the bowling alley.

The incident began as a prank by a "known trouble-maker," a 15-year-old boy who stole the shoes of Ruben Charles Cotten and his friends while they were bowling. Once they found their shoes missing, they began arguing with Mr. Cotten and his friends then took their dispute outside. Mr. Cotten came back inside with stab wounds. He was taken to the hospital where he died four days later.

Another fight, this one in Jarrettsville, also resulted in a death, also four days after the incident. A 23-year-old male was charged in the 26-year-old man's death, facing charges of manslaughter and assault and battery.

Another scary incident had a happy ending for a Belcamp 11-year-old boy who fell through the ice on the Bush River. He was in the freezing cold water for more than 20 minutes before he was rescued. Eight of his rescuers suffered from hypothermia.

In other news in Harford County 25 years ago this week, a fourth well near Scarboro Landfill was found to have detectable levels of cancerous chemicals in it.

The well, the Harford County Health Department said, contained methylene chloride, toluene, ethylbenzene and other xylenes in the water, though at rates well below the minimum acceptable stands set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

County Del. William Clark was planning to introduce a $150,000 bond bill to be sued to study building an 18-hole golf course at Susquehanna State Park. The bill would develop an economic feasibility study and preliminary design for the course.

An Anne Arundel County judge heard pre-trial motions this week 25 years ago in the case of accused cop-killer Frank Green.

The case was moved to Annapolis because of too much pre-trial publicity in Harford County. A jury trial had not been requested; were a judge to hear the case and find Green guilty, a jury would have to be chosen to determine his sentence.

Courtland Hardware, founded 28 years earlier in Bel Air, was planning to build a second store, this one in Fallston at the corner of Routes 165 and 152 at Upper Cross Roads near Fallston.

With 12,000 square feet, the hardware store would be the anchor in the 34,000-square-foot shopping center being developed on the former Amoss property.

A second store would be a major growth for the company.

"We like the location," part owner James Kunkel said. "We looked around, particularly in the Route 24 corridor," but we decided on this site because it seemed to have the best potential for us. We're excited about it."