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Two deaths at Park Charles apartment not linked, police say

The death on Sunday of a woman who went down a trash chute at a downtown Baltimore apartment building is not linked to the fatal plunge of a man in the same chute last year, city police said Wednesday.

After 23-year-old Emily Hauze's body was found Sunday in a trash bin at the Park Charles building, detectives reviewed the file of the earlier victim, 30-year-old Harsh Kumar.

Authorities confirmed their earlier conclusion that Kumar's death was an apparent accident. An autopsy report reviewed Wednesday shows that Kumar had been drinking alcohol and had simultaneously taken a powerful sleeping drug before he died.

"There is no link either forensically or through the victims," said Detective Kevin Brown, a police spokesman. He said homicide detectives investigating Hauze's death are "awaiting the medical examiner's ruling to lead us down an investigative path."

Police said they do not know how Hauze died and would not comment on any other aspect of their investigation, including what she was doing at the high-rise apartment building in the 200 block of N. Charles St. or whom she might have been with.

The deaths of Hauze and Kumar, 14 months apart and in a similar fashion, have worried residents of the 26-story Park Charles. Rumors flew through the building in the absence of concrete information from either police or building management.

Many residents have doubted the police theory of a bizarre coincidence and said it is difficult if not impossible to accidentally fall into one of the building's trash chutes, which have small, heavy, spring-loaded doors.

Baltimore police said that they did not reopen the investigation into Kumar's death but reviewed the file.

At the time, police said Kumar fell 16 stories through the chute and ended up in the trash compactor, but gave no indication of how he might have gotten there. The state Medical Examiner's Office ruled the cause of death undetermined.

The autopsy report, reviewed by The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday, shows that Kumar died of massive injuries that included a fractured skull, broken neck and ribs, and a broken nose.

The report says he suffered numerous cuts on his head, face, arms, chest and legs, and that his fingernails were dirty and bloody. It also says that his black tank top had "large tears and blood stains." Kumar was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 156 pounds, according to the report.

The report concluded that Kumar "had been consuming alcoholic beverages prior to his death and also took Zolpidem concurrently." Zolpidem is a sedative that slows the brain to help people sleep and is prescribed to treat insomnia. The manufacturer warns that sleep can come quickly and last several hours, and that the drug should not be taken with alcohol.

Pathologists did not say how much alcohol Kumar had consumed or how many pills he had taken. The report concluded: "The facts of the investigation did not demonstrate overt signs of suicidal intent."

Kumar worked in information technology at the Johns Hopkins University and had lived at the Park Charles for several years. His sister is an anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She referred questions to her husband, who said the family did not wish to comment.

Hauze's relatives and friends have not responded to interview requests, and a Mass held to remember her this week was private.

Hauze, who grew up in a small central Pennsylvania town near Valley Forge, graduated with honors last year from Loyola University Maryland with a degree in education. The school issued a brief statement this week saying "the thoughts and prayers" of the campus community "are with Emily's family and friends in this difficult time."

peter.hermann@baltsun.com

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