Howard County Police believe the 14-year-old daughter of Howard County blogger Dennis Lane conspired with her 19-year-old boyfriend to kill her father, who was stabbed to death inside his Ellicott City home Friday morning.
Jason Anthony Bulmer, 19, of the 8800 block of Town & Country Boulevard in Ellicott City, and Morgan Lane Arnold, 14, of the 8100 block of Winding Ross Way in Ellicott City, will be charged as adults with first- and second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, according to police.
Both Arnold and Bulmer are students at Mt. Hebron High School in Ellicott City.
Police said Bulmer and Arnold, who were found sitting in an upstairs bedroom when police arrived, discussed killing Lane, 58, through electronic communication for the last two months, and decided Thursday to commit the crime during the night.
According to police, Arnold left open the sliding glass door of the home for Bulmer, who at the behest of Arnold, stabbed Lane multiple times with a knife at approximately 4:20 a.m.
An adult resident inside the home, who was not injured, saw and heard the stabbing and called 911, police said.
Police believe Arnold told Bulmer, who was found with blood on his hands and clothes, the couple would run away together after the murder. It is unclear what motivated the two to kill Lane, police said.
"We really, at this point, don't know why they wanted to hurt or kill Mr. Lane," said police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn. "We have not been able to establish a motive. We've just gathered evidence that points to them being responsible."
Bill Harrison, who worked with Lane at Lee & Associates in Columbia, said he was shocked by the news.
"You know people who die in car accidents or heart attacks, but you don't expect to know anyone who was brutally murdered," Harrison said. "Living in Howard County, you don't expect anything like this to happen."
Harrison said Lane shared joint custody of Arnold, and that his impression from Lane was that he and his daughter were "very close."
"He would help her with her homework, he would take her hiking. I never heard him say a bad word about the child," Harrison said. "He never shared with me anything that would have led to me believe that such violence could've happened."
Harrison said Arnold would live with Lane during the week, and stay with her mother on weekends.
Harrison also said Lane was engaged to be married, and that he owned the Ellicott City home with his fiance.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Lane worked for the Rouse Company from 1977-83 as a group marketing director. He was also executive vice president at Noel-Lane Corporate Real Estate Advisors and senior vice president at Ryan Commercial. He had a monthly column in the The Business Monthy.
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman released the following statement on his Facebook page Friday.
"I am shocked and saddened by the death of Dennis Lane, a significant and thoughtful voice in the Howard County business and political community. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time. Please know that the Howard County Police Department is engaged in a thorough investigation," Ulman wrote.
County council member Courtney Watson said Lane was "very well-known and very well-respected," and was a friend to "many, many people in the Howard County community."
"The community is in a state of shock," she said. "It's going to take some time to make sense of it, if one can make sense of it."
Members of the local blog community echoed the sentiment of public officials.
"We are stunned and saddnened by the tragic loss of our dear, dear friend," said podcast producer David Bittner. "Whenver you get news like that, you don't want to believe it."
Bittner said he was packing up to record the "And Then There's That. ..." podcast at The Mall in Columbia Friday when Lane's co-host Paul Skalny called him with the news. Lane and Skalny had been co-hosting the podcast every other Friday for nearly four years.
"We are all just so sad that, just so sad that he's gone. I can't believe it," Bittner said.
Bittner would not comment on the circumstances surrounding Lane's death.
When reached at his office, Skalny said he was in a state of shock, but remembered his friend as someone with an infectious laugh and infectious personality.
"He's one of those people that lights up a room," Skalny said. "You meet him, and you feel like he cares about you and what you have to say. On the other hand, he wasn't swayed by what other people thought of him. He had tremendous convictions and wasn't scared of what other people may say about him. He went with his gut and what he thought was right."
Jessie Newburn, founder of the blogging community HoCoBlogs, said Lane's death meant "the passing of a really important, iconic person in our community." Newburn started the online community in 2008, and Lane was one of the first dozen or so bloggers, she said. Now, the community has about 350 members.
"As a blogger and a person, Dennis found this magical balance beam to walk," said Newburn, who has known Lane for more than 20 years. "He was concurrently on the inner circles of institutional knowledge and people trusted him. He also lived his life and wrote his blog the way he wanted to. If he wanted to poke fun at someone, he did. He found a very special and lovely line to walk that balanced all these different worlds."
The disclaimer at the bottom of Lane's blog exemplified his "balance beam," and his approach to his writing.
"This is a personal web log about stuff around here," Lane wrote. "The opinions and views of the blogger are just that, opinions and views of the blogger, not the bloggers employer, parish priest, probation officer or anyone else for that matter. Comments posted here may be attributable to others. If the content presented here offends you in some way you are probably taking yourself too seriously. If it is journalism that you are looking for, buy a newspaper."
Newburn said she was "always in awe" of Lane's tenacity.
"He had people he didn't care for, and people who didn't care for him, but he made no bones about it," she said. "He was very fair and willing to admit when he was wrong. He was a model in the blogging community. There's no one like him in terms of what he did."
Horizon Foundation spokesman Ian Kennedy, a former blogger himself, called Lane "Howard County's story-teller." He too echoed both Skalny's and Newburn's sentiments, that Lane went with his gut but could admit when he was wrong.
"I remember when were starting the 'Save Merriweather' campaign, and Dennis wrote a column calling Merriweather a dinosaur, saying it should go extinct," Kennedy said. "It was like, 'who is this guy?' Five or six years after that, he wrote a 'mea culpa.' Dennis would admit when he was wrong and there's not enough of that in the world."
Kennedy and Lane became friends, frequently having lunch together and bonding over common interests, like their dogs. Lane's death, Kennedy said, hasn't sunk in.
"I can't even process this," Kennedy said. "It's shocking. It's so random and these random things don't happen to people I know. They happen to people in the news, not to Dennis."
When it came to Lane's writing, both in his business column and blog, Kennedy said his words "had a melody and a rhythm."
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"He could make things jump off the page," he said. "He was our storyteller. He knew Howard County's history and he was involved in its present. This is a huge loss."