Rev. Leroy Fitts outside his home

The Rev. Leroy Fitts stands outside his home, May 9, 2014, which is next to a home (back left) where another murder had been committed. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun / July 1, 2014)

The last homes on the south side of the 3900 block of The Alameda in Northeast Baltimore are almost identical. They are split-level structures, built in 1957, with two bedrooms and one bath.

They share similar narrow driveways, rolling front lawns — and grieving families.

Both were homes to homicide victims and their families this year.

In the yellow home to the left live relatives recovering from the loss of Terry Junior Davis, 48, a registered nurse shot in the head in his room in February.

In the beige home to the right are relatives still in shock since losing Dietrich Emanuel Fitts, 46, a substitute teacher fatally shot Tuesday night just a 10-minute drive north of his house.

"He's my youngest son and very dear to my heart," said his father, the Rev. Leroy Fitts.

Next-door neighbors, the families are separated by walls but connected by grief — underscoring the prevalence of violence in Baltimore.

In a city where there were 235 homicides last year and 63 people have been killed so far this year, their experience is not unusual. Many blocks have seen multiple homicides. Last year, police took the unusual step of posting officers around the clock outside a short West Baltimore block after a third person was killed there in just six months.

Police said they are investigating all angles in the killings of the two neighbors, including whether there are any connections.

"I'm hoping that's an odd, eerie coincidence and not the norm," said John Vaughters, a vice president of the Ednor Gardens Lakeside neighborhood. "I'm a little upset. That's just a block from me."

Police reported finding Dietrich Fitts on Tuesday night in the 2400 block of Wellbridge Drive in a car, a gunshot wound to his face. Taken to a hospital, he was pronounced dead less than an hour later. The case is unsolved, and Baltimore police spokesman Detective Jeremy Silbert said investigators are checking to see whether there are any links to Davis' case.

Donathan A. Booth, 25, was charged in March in Davis' killing. Police said Booth, who told detectives he was in a relationship with Davis, fatally shot him and stole his BMW and a credit card, according to court records.

In February, Fitts stood on his porch hours after the police tape had been removed next door and said that he was shocked anyone would kill Davis, whom he described as a "good person" and hard worker.

"I can't imagine why someone would want to do this," Fitts told The Baltimore Sun at the time.

Now his family is wondering the same thing.

Dietrich Fitts had his struggles, his parents said. He had a heart condition that occasionally required hospitalization. He was arrested last month in Baltimore County on a drug possession charge and was scheduled to be in court in June, state court records show.

He wanted a better life, his family said, and had graduated two years ago from Baltimore City Community College. He pledged to finish his bachelor's degree this year and aspired to teach.

"Everybody has issues," said his mother, Alice Fitts. "He's my son. I love him very much."

He was the son who took on every task when decorating for his parents' 50th anniversary celebration earlier this year. He always left home with the same goodbye: "Love ya, Mom, see ya in a few."

He consoled Davis' family when they were grieving next door.