Police hunt for fugitive intensifies

Sun Reporters

Baltimore County police pressed their search early today for a man wantedin four killings and a kidnapping as fearful east-side residents locked theirdoors, kept their children home from school and flooded investigators withreported sightings of the fugitive.

More than 48 hours after police say Joseph C. Palczynski began his bloodyrampage, a search helicopter buzzed over his Chase neighborhood near SenecaCreek.

Dozens of police cruisers patrolled roads and guarded schools in the area.Teams of search dogs scoured woods in Rosedale, Essex and Middle River.

In a personal plea to her son, Patricia Long begged Palczynski tosurrender.

"Joseph, this is Mom. Please don't do anything wrong anymore, please," Longsaid. "I want you to go back and talk to these people. Turn yourself in.Please, Joseph, please. This is hurting all of us.

"I don't want you killed. I don't want to see you die. And I know you saidyou'd kill yourself before you get back."

The message was left on Long's telephone answering machine.

The search for Palczynski began Tuesday night, when he is accused ofshooting and killing George Shenk, 49; his wife, Gloria Jean Shenk, 50; andneighbor David Meyers, 42, at an apartment complex in Bowleys Quarters.

His estranged girlfriend, Tracy Whitehead, had moved in with the Shenks twodays earlier after filing assault charges against Palczynski. Police saidPalczynski dragged her from the Shenks' apartment and killed Meyers when hetried to intervene.

Palczynski -- a convicted felon with a history of mental illness anddomestic violence -- surfaced again about 7: 40 p.m. Wednesday, when policesay he went on a shooting spree while trying to steal a car.

When the owner of the targeted car ran across Ebenezer Road, 36-year-oldJennifer L. McDonel, who was driving by with her husband, was killed bygunfire, police said.

Police said the gunman also shot at Lisa Marie Sims and her son, Gregory,2, who were traveling on the same road. The boy was seriously injured when abullet grazed the left side of his face.

The gunman ran after the owner of the car, got the keys and drove away,police said.

Minutes later, the same man walked into the home of 81-year-old Anna M.Etter, handcuffed her to an upstairs bed and stole her car, police said.

The suspect and Whitehead arrived two hours later at the El-Rich Motel inRosedale, according to police.

The man did not have identification and offered a Social Security number.He signed for Room 25 under the name of John Silver as Whitehead stood bysilently, said motel manager Harry Patel.

Richard Dawson, 34, of Baltimore, who was staying at the motel, said, "Theylooked like the happiest couple in the world," when they arrived. Minuteslater, Dawson said, he saw them return from a nearby grocery store carryingbags of food.

"She came running and saying, `Help me. Help me. He's got a gun,' " Dawsonsaid.

Whitehead ran to a police cruiser parked near the motel, where ahit-and-run accident had occurred. The man ran off and has not been seensince.

Of the hundreds of tips police received yesterday, none led investigatorsto the suspect, whom police describe as extremely dangerous and volatile.

"We've got everyone out there looking for him -- the police, the reporters,and the only person we didn't see was him," said a police officer who had justfinished searching sections of Essex.

Many officers worked through the night and expressed frustration that thefugitive was still at large.

Officials are conducting a parallel investigation into how the suspectobtained the weapons he allegedly used in the shootings. An automatic rifleand a pistol-grip shotgun were recovered in a 1987 Dodge Shadow parked infront of the motel.

Police believe that the suspect might have purchased the guns throughanother person. Without weapons, food or clothing, police say, he might resortto stealing.

The prospect that the fugitive could surface again left residents andbusiness owners on edge.

At Seneca Elementary School, across from his apartment, signs on the lockedfront doors instructed, "Please knock and wait for assistance." A woman wouldnot allow a visitor inside, saying: "Police have told us to do this."

At a fast-food restaurant, hamburgers were served with a warning: "Becareful out there today."

Some residents took more serious measures.

Bill Brown, an employee at the Gun Shop on Eastern Boulevard, said about 15gun owners bought extra ammunition. "They were saying, `If he comes through mydoor, they'll carry him out in a body bag,' " Brown said.

"People are very nervous -- helicopters at night, search dogs, they can'tstop talking about it," said Craig Gleaton, a courtesy clerk outside theSafeway supermarket at Carroll Island and Bowleys Quarters roads. "I've talkedwith some parents who kept their kids home from school."

School attendance in the southeast part of the county was down yesterday byabout 25 percent, said Charles A. Herndon, a county schools spokesman. AtBerkshire Elementary School, where Whitehead's 6-year-old son is a student,about 40 percent of the pupils stayed home, he said.

Police officers -- some undercover -- were stationed at every home thatPalczynski or Whitehead were known to visit. That included his home onCarrollwood Road, his mother's home on Freedom Court and Whitehead'sstepfather's house on Lange Street.

While county officials would not discuss Whitehead's whereabouts, herstepfather, Andy McCord, said: "Tracy is doing fine, I guess."

Of the other victims, Sims and her son are recovering at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where Gregory is awaiting surgery, said Joseph Short, 77, Sims'grandfather. "It's not safe to have someone like that running around theneighborhood," he said.

Etter said she feels lucky.

The elderly Rosedale resident was watching "Wheel of Fortune" about 8 p.m.Wednesday when she looked up to see a man and woman standing in front of her.Etter had left her door unlocked.

"He started to say they were policemen, but they didn't have a badge or auniform," Etter said. "But he did have a shotgun so I thought they wereundercover -- until he said he wanted my car. He said they were looking forfugitives.

"Then I said `Why do you need my car?' Then he said, they were thefugitives. So I got up and gave them my keys."

Etter described the man as calm and said the woman stood nearby, sayingonly that she was tired. The man explained his intentions.

"He said he would kill" Whitehead, Etter said.

Etter asked him why.

"Because I love her," he answered.

"That isn't love," Etter replied.

The man led Etter upstairs and handcuffed her to a bed. Then he said onelast thing before leaving, Etter said.

"When this is all over, could you please call my mother and tell her that Ilove her?"

Sun staff writers Joe Nawrozki, Lynn Anderson and Joan Jacobson contributed to this article.

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