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Recalling the unsolved murder of ‘the angel of Reservoir Hill’

La-Tonya Wallace's killing, which has never been solved, stunned Baltimore. The 11-year-old, pictured above, from Druid Park Lake Drive, vanished after visiting the library. She was found deceased two days later.
La-Tonya Wallace's killing, which has never been solved, stunned Baltimore. The 11-year-old, pictured above, from Druid Park Lake Drive, vanished after visiting the library. She was found deceased two days later. (Handout photo)

La-Tonya Wallace was recalled as an 11-year-old, bright-eyed little girl from Druid Park Lake Drive. She was in the fifth grade at Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School.

“She vanished on a cold, dreary Tuesday afternoon in February 1988 after leaving the Park Avenue branch of the Enoch Pratt Library,” said a 1991 Sun story. “Her body, fully clothed, was found two days later in the back yard of a house in the 700 block of Newington Ave., four blocks from her home and a few hundred yards from the library. Her body had been carefully placed atop her red raincoat… The girl's blue book bag had been set neatly to one side.”

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Pallbearers carry the casket of La-Tonya Wallace from First Emmanuel Baptist Church in February 1988.
Pallbearers carry the casket of La-Tonya Wallace from First Emmanuel Baptist Church in February 1988. (Perry Thorsvik / Baltimore Sun)

Her death, which has never been solved, stunned the city. Detective Tom Pellegrini led an intense investigation. He and others believed that La-Tonya, who liked reading and books, was attacked and slain in the neighborhood. They felt her murderer carried her body down an alley to a back yard at night. “There also is evidence that the girl knew her killer and may even have gone to meet him after leaving the library,” The Sun’s 1991 story said.

“I think this little girl fell into a trap,” said Detective Pellegrini.

The story described La-Tonya as a cautious child who usually walked her route to the library with a school chum. The afternoon she went missing, she walked along Park Avenue with a 10-year-old boy she knew. They passed First Emmanuel Baptist Church, where her funeral was held. It was attended by then-Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who described her as “Baltimore’s child.” Former Sen. Barbara Mikulski called La-Tonya “the angel of Reservoir Hill.”

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