Man charged in slaying over tennis shoes


A 29-year-old man was arrested at a Baltimore mission last night and charged with killing a man in September 1989 for his shoes.

Alvin L. Milam, of no fixed address, was taken into custody about 7:30 p.m. at the Helping Up Mission, 1000 E. Baltimore St., according to police.

Milam was charged with killing Kevin M. Smith, 25, of the 4400 block of LaPlata Ave. in northwest Baltimore. The slaying occurred Sept. 29, 1989.

Police found the victim's body on top of some newspapers on the second level of the Quill-Crown Parking Garage in the 300 block of W. Franklin St. Milam had been struck in the head with a metal bar from a scaffold jack.

The only item apparently taken following the slaying, police said, were the victim's tennis shoes. Police said the shoes were not expensive.

The break in the case came, police said, when a witness called detectives and told them where Milam was staying. The reason for the long delay was not given by police.

Meanwhile, a 43-year-old city school maintenance supervisor, charged with the first-degree murder of a female custodian found dead last week in the boiler room of Southeast Middle School, faced a bail review hearing today in District Court.

It's the third Baltimore case in less than a week in which a man was charged with killing or attempting to kill his girlfriend, police said.

In the custodian's death, police arrested Frank E. Collins Sr. of the 4400 block of Moravia Road at 6:30 a.m. yesterday at his apartment. He was charged with first-degree murder, robbery, use of a handgun in a commission of a felony and possession of a .32-caliber revolver, which police believe is the murder weapon. Police described Collins as the boyfriend of the custodian.

The victim, Barbara A. Thrower, 44, of the 2000 block of E. Lanvale St., had been head custodian at the school on Fait

Avenue for nearly a year. She had been shot in the head and chest and robbed. Collins was her supervisor, police said.

A court commissioner ordered Collins held overnight without bail at the Eastern District lockup pending a bail review hearing today before a judge at the Eastside District Court at North Avenue and Harford Road, police said.

As Collins stepped off a patrol wagon to enter the lockup building, he held his head down to hide his face as the raindrops bounced off his head.

Collins is accused of robbing and fatally shooting Thrower last Wednesday. An electrical contractor discovered her body in the school's boiler room.

"The obvious motive is robbery," said Dennis Hill, a police spokesman. "We think there's a domestic ingredient involved too."

Hill said police didn't know how much money was taken from Thrower. "We know her pocketbook was empty . . . her [pants] pockets had been pulled out and the jewelry she normally carried was removed." He said she usually wore earrings and a necklace.

Police said Collins was at the school after Thrower's body had been found and was one of many staff members interviewed.

Hill declined to say what evidence lead police to Collins' arrest in connection with Thrower's slaying. The killing was one of 274 homicides committed in the city this year, which is more than for all of 1989. At the same time last year, there were 244 homicides and by year's end 262, Hill said.

At the school yesterday, Principal John E. Mohamed said he knew little about Collins, except to say "he seemed productive."

A school system spokeswoman said Collins was hired in April 1970 as a custodial worker and was promoted in July 1989 to education building manager.

Mohamed also said the slaying of Thrower, a popular figure at the school, brought his student population and professional staff together.

"There were flowers, my children made collections of money in the community and eight of my eighth-graders went to the [funeral] services and presented all that was collected to the surviving daughter," the principal said.

On Saturday, city police arrested the boyfriend of a 19-year-old woman who has been missing for three weeks and charged him with first-degree murder in her disappearance. The body has not been found.

On Sunday, police charged a 26-year-old Pikesville man with attempted murder and handgun violations after he walked into a hair salon on West Franklin Street and opened fire on his girlfriend, who remains in stable condition at University of Maryland Medical Center.

Last year, domestic disputes accounted for 15 deaths in the city.

State Police reported that there were 14,107 cases of domestic violence in Maryland in 1989, with 3,087 of that number occurring in Baltimore.

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