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Moments of sleep, and crisis is ended

Sun Reporters

In the end, sleep deprivation ended Joseph C. Palczynski's 97-hour hostagemarathon in Dundalk.

Taking advantage of Palczynski's need for sleep, hostage Lynnn Whiteheadmade a run for it out a front bedroom window as her captor slept on a livingroom sofa with a gun in his lap, police said. About 20 minutes later, herboyfriend, Andy McCord, followed her lead as police swarmed the Lange Streetrowhouse.

The escapes surprised Baltimore County police, who had not had contact withPalczynski since a 9:45 p.m. phone conversation. The county's police chief andcommand staff were in a meeting, preparing for the 11 p.m. shift change.

Then the break occurred as "word came out that there was a hostage comingout a window," said police spokeswoman Vickie Warehime.

Whitehead had jumped from a bedroom window and run along the side of thebuilding into the arms of waiting officers.

"She's jumped out," yelled a woman, one of many neighbors who had followedthe siege and communicated on walkie-talkies.

As officers spoke to Whitehead, Andy McCord jumped out the window 20minutes later. Both told police that their son, Bradley McCord, was sleepingon the kitchen floor in the back of the apartment, Warehime said. They saidPalczynski had weapons nearby.

Warehime said Palczynski was lying on a sofa with a gun in his lap when twotactical officers climbed a ladder to the living room window and broke theglass. Four officers followed them in.

"The rattle of the glass woke him up," said Bill Toohey, a county policespokesman.

Palczynski sat up, but before he could get his bearings, two officers shothim, police said. Bradley McCord was escorted to safety.

As paramedics and ambulances rushed from every direction, residents asked:"Is he dead, is he dead?" over their walkie-talkies.

State police paramedics tried to resuscitate Palczynski, but he wasdeclared dead at 11:05 p.m.

Whitehead's escape marked the beginning of the end to Palczynski's bloodyrampage, which started March 7 in Bowleys Quarters when police said heabducted his ex-girlfriend, Tracy Whitehead, who is Lynn's daughter.

During the four-day siege, police said they had few details on thecondition of the hostages. Negotiators relied heavily on Palczynksi's accountsof the situation, police said, as officers had no way to verify informationabout the family.

"This whole episode has been one unpredictable event after another," Tooheysaid. "Every third day we had some new twist."

David White of the 7600 block of Berkshire Road, across the street fromwhere the hostages were held, said he saw Lynn Whitehead and Bradley McCord ata ground-floor window of the house on Monday. Apparently prompted byPalczynski, they shouted his demand that he be allowed to talk with TracyWhitehead.

Police complied with Palczynski's demands for food, but he was neverallowed contact with Tracy Whitehead. As the siege dragged on, he was allowedto take short naps.

Police said the hostages had been tied up for brief periods, but wereallowed to walk around the house, even to cook their meals.

Palczynski often talked to the hostages, and never threatened to kill them,sources said, but he did use them as shields when he came to the window.

When tactical officers swarmed the house, windows were broken and the frontdoor Palczynski nailed shut was blasted open by police, neighbors said.

"We can all breathe a sigh of relief," a woman said when it was over.

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