While Joseph C. Palczynski's mother was expected late last night to plead for him to turn himself in, police continued their search for the man suspected of four killings who fled briefly to Virginia before returning home to eastern Baltimore County, where residents have grown increasingly nervous.
Hampered by the bad weather, which grounded aerial surveillance and dulled
the trail for bloodhounds, law enforcement authorities combed the Bowleys
Quarters area all day yesterday but did not find him.
They discovered early yesterday that Palczynski -- who is 31 and described
as a lifelong outdoorsman -- had escaped Friday to Virginia, stolen weapons
from a home there and then forced a Virginia man early yesterday to drive him
back to the eastern side of Baltimore County, where the events began Tuesday.
Despite rain and poor visibility, agents from the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, state police and Baltimore County police continued their
round-the-clock search for Palczynski yesterday in the woods and on the
streets, at one point searching vehicles driving in and out of Carroll Island
Residents who have been captivated and terrified by the week's events in
the typically quiet eastern Baltimore County community have armed themselves
with baseball bats, loaded guns and knives scattered through their homes.
Police believe Palczynski is wearing layers of clothing -- some camouflage,
some flannel -- and is carrying a .22-caliber revolver. He might also have a
knife, they said. Police believe he was last seen about 7 a.m. yesterday
leaping a fence on Orems Road.
"He's smart. He's daring. He has been in an element that he has been very
comfortable with," said Maj. Brian Uppercue, a county police spokesman,
referring to the thick woods where Palczynski is believed to be hiding.
"The officers are hesitant to go into dark woods because they can be
ambushed," he said.
The series of shootings this week and subsequent searches have brought the
community to a standstill, especially in the evening when many storekeepers
are shutting their doors early, replacing their typical goodbyes to customers
with warnings such as "be careful" and "get home before dark."
Court records show Palczynski has a history of mental illness and has
repeatedly assaulted former girlfriends and their families.
Neighbors in the heavily wooded waterfront community hurried home yesterday
to lock themselves indoors and break out weapons for protection if they were
surprised by the suspect who has eluded police for days.
"I borrowed a small handgun that we keep in the house loaded now," said Jim
Marcum as he shopped for food and bird feed at a local Safeway. "I think a lot
of people are on guard."
Carl Pucci echoed his neighbors' concerns from the parking lot of a
"I've put knives in strategic locations, so if he came in we would have
something around," he said. "It's incredible that one person can cause such a
stir and disrupt so many people's lives."
Even people who said they don't believe in guns felt compelled to have some
kind of protection.
"I don't own a gun, but I'm looking at buying one," said Deanna Schepling,
53. "What am I going to do living alone, if this lunatic came near my house? I
never felt the need for one, but this is making me want to have one. The
police can't catch him."
Sandy Bochenek, who lives about a mile from the apartment complex where
Tuesday's shootings occurred, said she won't have a gun in the house with her
toddler daughter, but "I went to my mother's and got a baseball bat because
our dogs would just lick him to death."
"I don't open the windows," she said. "I keep the outside lights on. I feel
like I'm watching my back. Everybody that walks by -- a guy -- I don't know.
He could be disguised."
Palczynski has been hunted since Tuesday evening when, police say, he went
to an apartment in the 3700 block of White Pine Road, kidnapped his estranged
girlfriend Tracy Whitehead, 22, and shot two people who had taken her in --
49-year-old George Shenk and his wife Gloria, 50. Palczynski is accused of
gunning down 42-year-old David Michael Meyers, a neighbor of the Shenks, when
he came to Whitehead's aid.