After a Christmas package from her mother-in-law disappeared from outside her Middle River home this past holiday season, Amy Santopietro said didn’t think the gifts would ever be returned.
She scanned the neighborhood holding out hope that one item in particular, a colorful quilt her mother-in-law, Patricia White of North Carolina, spent a year sewing for her 8-year-old daughter, might turn up.
Until Jan. 22, that is. That was the day the quilt was returned to the Santopietro family — after a bit of detective work by Baltimore County Officer Amy Caprio.
This week the family reflected on the thoughtfulness of Caprio — the officer killed Monday in Perry Hall and laid to rest Friday.
“It was very surreal that my family has this connection to her,” Santopietro said. “We are very indebted.”
Caprio, a 4-year-veteran of the department assigned to the Parkville Precinct, died after she was struck by a vehicle police say was driven by 16-year-old Dawnta Harris.
Caprio, 29, attempted to stop the teen, who police allege was in a stolen Jeep he drove to Perry Hall with three other teens to burglarize a home. Police say the teen did not follow Caprio’s commands and drove the Jeep at her, striking her.
Harris’ attorneys contend the boy panicked when the officer drew her weapon; and that he ducked down and couldn’t see where he was going as Caprio fired.
Police and prosecutors said they will not release body camera video of the incident with trials pending. Harris and three other teens are charged with first-degree murder in her death.
Caprio was buried at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium after funeral services on Friday.
Santopietro, a nurse, said she and her husband and daughter were among hundreds who attended a public viewing for Caprio on Thursday.
They brought the colorful quilt with them, and she said other officers in the department spotted it and approached her.
“It was very honoring,” she said.
Police say Caprio’s investigation over the holidays led to the reunification of the quilt and helped close dozens of package theft cases across the county.
The investigation began in December when residents in White Marsh, Parkville, Towson, Cockeysville and Dundalk reported a rash of package thefts. Caprio took a report on Dec. 23 at a home on Silvage Road in Parkville where a woman said a dress and a black scarf were mailed to her home, but the packages were stolen.
Caprio continued to collect reports — another on Dec. 23 from Trepid Road in Parkville where items including a Polaroid camera were taken; a home on Fieldchat Road in White Marsh where toy blocks and chef’s knife went missing.
Caprio continued to collect the reports into the new year, and after an item was stolen from a home in Parkville, she obtained surveillance video showing a four-door vehicle pass the house, then return. Police say a man in a black hat and khaki pants hopped out and snatched the package.
As other reports came in from other precincts, Caprio located one of the stolen items at a pawn shop, which led her to a suspect, Kenneth David Sutphin, 34, of Ivy Lane in Glen Burnie.
On Jan. 10, Caprio distributed an internal departmental flyer about the cases, and other officers in Dundalk linked Sutphin’s girlfriend, Kimberly Diane Brooks, 33, also of Ivy Lane, to some of the thefts, police said. They were later arrested at a motel on Pulaski Highway, where investigators found more items — including the quilt — and charged them wwith burglary and other offenses. Attorneys for Sutphin and Brooks could not be reached for comment Friday.
Police said that because of Caprio’s work, 11 cases in Dundalk, eight cases between the Parkville and White Marsh and one in Towson were cleared. For her efforts, she was named the precinct’s officer of the month in March; her work won her praise from higher ranking officers within the department.
After her death, Baltimore County Chief of Police Terrence Sheridan called Caprio “the kind of officer that was going to go up in this organization.”
Officials were unable to recover every item that had been stolen. But for Amy Santropietro, Caprio reunited her family with an important heirloom.
“We are very honored to be a part of this,” she said.