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Police and fire scan



WESTMINSTER - District Judge Francis Arnold denied bail Monday for Edwin F.

Downs Jr., a 31-year-old Mount Airy resident charged with shooting and killing his wife as she lay sleeping last Wednesday.

Defense attorney Michael D. Mason asked Arnold to release Downs and set reasonable bail because Downs, a former Marine staff sergeant and the father of three, posed no threat and would appear for court because of substantial community ties, including a new home, family and friends in the area, and a steady job as a deliveryman for the Washington Post.

Ruth Downs, the defendant's adoptive mother, offered her New Market, Frederick County, home as collateral for her son's bail.

However, State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman, urging Arnold to deny bail, said the murder of 30-year-old Anne Rita Downs was "planned, premeditated."

He said the defendant posed a threat to key prosecution witnesses.

"It was murder in the first degree," Hickman said. "There's no two ways about it."

Meanwhile, a state police canine unit recovered a .357 Smith and Wesson handgun about 3 p.m. Sunday along Brink Road off Route 27. Police said Downs directed them to the area, saying he had driven his van there.

The weapon is undergoing ballistics testing at the crime lab in Pikesville. Police hope to determine ownership.

Downs, who celebrated his birthday last Friday and Christmas yesterday in the Detention Center, remains incarcerated pending a preliminary hearing at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 23. Bullet lands in house



WESTMINSTER -- When a resident found a large-caliber bullet lodged in the wall of his Littlestown Pike home Saturday morning, he called the state police.

Police said the bullet had gone through a sliding glass door and a couch before landing in the wall.

Police said they found two hunters in the woods near the house and confiscated a .54-caliber muzzle shot rifle from one.


Thick fog rolled into the area Friday evening at rush hour, just as many travelers began the Christmas holiday weekend.

State police said the dense fog and rain-slick roads played a part in at least nine accidents in four hours.

Police added that visibility on some roads was about one-sixteenth of a mile.

The first accident was reported about 5 p.m. The crashes continued until about 9 p.m., leaving six people injured, police said.

The heavy fog also prevented state police med-evac helicopters from reaching some of the accident victims.

In Baltimore County, a car hit a utility pole, knocking out electricity to about 500 homes, some near Hampstead. Most power was restored by 9 p.m.


Here is a compilation of the fire and rescue calls to the Emergency Operations Center:

Dec. 21

5:00 p.m., Sykesville and Gamber responded to a building fire at Liberty High School, Bartholow Road, Eldersburg. The fire, which was extinguished by the school's sprinkler system, caused about $1,000 damage to a wood shop and some damage to a finishing room. An investigation continues.

9:02 p.m., Sykesville responded to a fire on Westchester Hills Court, Eldersburg.


Crime Solvers, a volunteer group that assists area police, is asking residents to help solve the Crime of the Week.

This week, the group is targeting the theft of four tires and wheels from a car parked at a home on Robin hood way in Sykesville on Nov. 10.

Police believe the theft occurred between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Callers can remain anonymous, and if the information leads to an arrest, you could receive up to $1,000.

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