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News Maryland

Police corner armed fugitive

Joseph Palczynski -- the Bowleys Quarters man suspected of killing fourpeople, wounding a young boy and kidnapping two people in a violent rampagethat began March 7 -- was barricaded in the Dundalk house of hisex-girlfriend's mother early this morning with at least three hostages andweapons, police said.

At 2:15 a.m., Palczynski said he would not come out until he could talk tohis former girlfriend, Tracy Whitehead, an officer said over police radio.

Palczynski, who has a history of incarceration, domestic violence andmental illness, broke into a house in southeastern Baltimore County about 9p.m. and stole a handgun and two rifles before breaking into the Whiteheadhome in the 7500 block of Lange St. near Berkshire Elementary School,authorities said.

Early this morning, attorney David Henninger, who has representedPalczynski in various cases since the mid-1980s, appealed to Palczynski tosurrender:

"Joe, this is Dave. Joe, look I'm here for you. ... I need you to releasethe hostages and come out. I'm here for you. I'm waiting for you outside,Joe."

Police said they asked Henninger to make the statement and local televisionstations to carry it live because they believe Palczynski was watching TV.

At 2 a.m. Palczynski and his lawyer were talking by telephone. At the sametime, police were sketching out a scenario for Palczynski's possiblesurrender, but the suspect was balking.

By 2:45 p.m., no one was reported hurt.

For hours last night, a five-block area of the Berkshire neighborhood inDundalk was paralyzed by the stand-off. Police fanned out across the area andordered residents to stay in their houses. Some who ventured out were stoppedand frisked.

About 9 p.m., police said, Palczynski broke into a house in the Berkshireneighborhood near Oaklawn Cemetery and stole at least three high-poweredweapons, including two rifles.

The suspect was on foot, police believe. Neighbors in the area reportedhearing shots fired.

He then went to Lange Street, police said, and entered the house at 7520 --the residence of Lynn Whitehead, the mother of Palczynski's ex-girlfriend.

There, according to police, Palczynski took at least three people hostage,including children.

Someone in a neighboring house dialed 911, and hostage negotiations withPalczynski began by phone in the Lange Street house.

Initially police reported that Palczynski had called 911. But whenPalczynski saw that report on television, he told police he had not made thecall, said Bill Toohey, a county police spokesman.

As police poured into the neighborhood, residents took refuge in a localschool. Some questioned why police had not been watching Whitehead's housemore closely.

Nancy Forsythe, whose daughter lives in the 7500 block of Lange St., was onher way into the neighborhood after hearing about the standoff at a St.Patrick's Day party at a local tavern.

Police would not let her near her daughter's house on Lange Street, wherethe daughter, her two children and Forsyth's son were gathered.

Police sent Forsythe and her boyfriend, Dennis Murphy, to the Berkshireschool cafeteria.

Murphy kept telling Forsythe to remain calm, and she replied: "When I seemy kids and grandkids, I'll be relaxed."

Moments later, a phone rang at the school. It was Forsythe's daughtercalling to tell her mother what was happening.

Forsythe ended the conversation by saying, "I love you. Just stay down."

Next to her in the cafeteria was a woman who identified herself as a cousinof Lynn Whitehead. The woman said the house on Lange Street was "supposed" tobe under police guard, but wasn't. Other neighbors wondered why the housewasn't being watched.

Cpl. Vickie Wareheim, a county police spokeswoman, denied that police wereunder orders to guard the house. "It is not true," she said.

"I was walking down the street, coming toward [the Whitehead] house when Iheard five to six shots. I headed toward the corner and heard three moreshots," said 19-year-old Sonny Collins, who identified himself as TracyWhitehead's first cousin and said he sometimes lived with Lynn Whitehead.

"Then the police pulled guns out on me, threw me to the ground and treatedme like a suspect -- real ignorant-like.

"I tried to tell them who I was, and they told me to get into my otheraunt's house. I stay with her sometimes, too."

Neighbors on Lange Street said the area had been on virtual lockdown since9:30. Several neighbors reported that police were stopping people as they cameout of their houses and asking for identification.

Gordon Tyler, who lives at 7529 Lange St., said when he went outside atabout 9:30 to grab his son's basketball, police surrounded him.

"It was like, 'Back in the house, sir, we have firearms,' and I

thought 'Oh, my goodness gracious,'" Tyler said.

When his neighbor emerged to take out the trash, police frisked him.

"I seen him throw his hands up and they frisked him real quick," Tylersaid. Police "are everywhere. I didn't think there was this many cops in thestate of Maryland."

Tyler's children were at a party at the nearby elementary school and werewalking back to the neighborhood when police stopped them.

Tyler said he looked out the door to see his 11-year-old daughter at theend of block, being escorted by police.

"I seen this bright yellow jacket, and there is my daughter and the policehave her, and I thought, 'This isn't good.'

"They should have really staked out that house. They were there for thefirst two days; after that they took off, and this is where he shows up at."

Jim Carlsen, who lives at 7531 Lange St., said, "There are helicopters anddogs all over the place."

"[Police] told me, 'Get back in the house,'" he said.

Carlsen said police had blanketed the neighborhood, hiding in rowhouses andalleys, and were knocking on doors telling people to keep their lights turnedoff.

Elizabeth Hutchins, who lives alone at 7510 Lange St., said her son calledher to warn her of the hostage situation.

"My daughter-in-law said, 'Sit on the floor, Mom, so they can't shoot youthrough the windows,'" Hutchins, 79, said.

The shooting rampage began 11 days ago when Palczynski allegedly abductedTracy Whitehead. She was living with 50-year-old Gloria Jean Shenk and herhusband, George Shenk, 49, in the Town & Country Bowleys Quarters Apartments.

About 8:30 that Tuesday night, Palczynski walked into the apartment througha sliding glass door, carrying a shotgun, according to charging documents.

Whitehead, the Shenks and their 12-year-old son and 3-year-oldgranddaughter were watching television.

"Tracy, get up, you're going," Palczynski said, according to courtdocuments. Gloria Shenk said something to Palczynski, and she and her husbandwere shot in front of the children, police said.

Their son ran upstairs, to the apartment of neighbor Robert Brashears, 39.

"The boy came and said someone is shooting his mom and dad. He said his dadwas dead, but that his mother was still moving," Brashears said. "I wasasking, 'Do you know this guy?' And he said it was the boyfriend of the girlstaying with them."

Palczynski left the apartment dragging Whitehead toward his van, parked onWhite Pine Road, charging documents say.

David M. Meyers, a tenant in a neighboring building, heard a woman yellingand ran outside to help. Shot several times, he was Palczynski's third victim,police allege.

Police also accuse Palczynski of shooting and killing Jennifer McDonnel,37, a passing motorist, during an attempted carjacking the next night.

Police believe Palczynski traveled to Virginia at the end of last

week and stole two guns and cash from one home, then forced a man atanother home to drive him back to eastern Baltimore County.

A week ago police arrested an Essex woman on gun charges, saying she knewPalczynski was a convicted felon but supplied him with the shotgun and rifleallegedly used in the four killings. Constance A. Waugh, 48, of the 12500block of Gracewood Drive, was charged with making a false statement inconnection with the purchase of a gun.

An affidavit filed by agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco andFirearms said Waugh knew Palczynski by the nickname "Joby" and bought the gunsand ammunition at two local gun shops the day before the assault on theShenks' apartment.

Police searched a 100-square-mile area of eastern Baltimore County that ismostly woods and marshland, and logged 1,050 calls since the first killingsMarch 7.

Over the past few days, Palczynski was reportedly spotted at a half-dozenplaces at the same time. Callers said they saw him at banks, bars, conveniencestores and motels.

County police sent a message to police departments nationwide, saying thatPalczynski had severe psychological problems and was carrying 100 rounds ofammunition, a rifle and a shotgun.

Court records show Palczynski has a history of domestic violence and mentalillness dating to 1988,

when he was convicted of battery for slapping and punching a 16-year-oldgirlfriend.

He was on probation for a 1997 conviction for battery and obstruction ofjustice for trying to intimidate a former girlfriend and her father after thewoman filed charges, according to records in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

While the search for Palczynski concentrated on the east side of BaltimoreCounty, fearful resi

dents locked their doors, kept their children home from school and floodedinvestigators with reported sightings.

His mother, Patricia Long, left a message on her answering machine begginghim to surrender.

"Joseph, this is Mom. Please don't do anything wrong anymore, please," Longpleaded. "I don't want you killed. I don't want to see you die."

Sun staff writers Rafael Alvarez and Heather Dewar contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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