A former Columbia man awaiting trial at the Howard County Detention Center has been charged with attempted rape in connection with the July 26 assault of an art gallery employee, county police said.

Thomas Lightfoot, 41, who is awaiting trial on an unrelated attempted kidnapping charge, is accused in the attack on a 31-year-old woman at the Margaret Smith Art Gallery in Ellicott City.

The victim identified Lightfoot out of a photo lineup as the man who physically assaulted her and threatened her with a knife, a court document said.

Police said the woman was working during the evening when the assailant, who had been posing as a customer, pulled outa knife and told her he intended to rape her. The woman struggled with the man and he eventually ran from the gallery.

The victim suffered numerous bruises and a broken finger in the attack and was treated and released from Howard County General Hospital.

Police circulated "wanted" posters of the attacker throughout the Main Street areain the week following the incident.

Lightfoot has been held at the Howard County Detention Center since Jan. 14, when he was arrested and charged with attempting to kidnap a woman at knifepoint at a Columbia post office.

At the time of his arrest, Lightfoot was on parole after serving 11 years for an attempted kidnapping at The Mall in Columbia in 1979, court records said.

Court records said police obtained a search warrant for Lightfoot's home and found a black duffelbag and a kitchen knife. Both matched descriptions of items carried by the art gallery attacker.

Baltimore City police also have charged Lightfoot with a December 1990 sexual assault that occurred in thecity, when a man armed with a knife forced an acquaintance to perform sexual acts, court records said.

Lightfoot remains in the HowardCounty Detention Center on $110,000 bond.


Two men carrying automatic handguns took an estimated $30,000 in jewelry Wednesday from Everett and Sons Fine Jewelry storein Columbia, county police said.

The men entered the store, in the Owen Brown Village Center, shortly before 7:15 p.m. and showed the guns to a clerk, police said. One of the men then broke a glass display case and took the jewelry.

Police said the thieves then fled the store without harming the clerk. They took numerous gold and diamond rings, chains and bracelets, police said.

The store clerk was able to provide police with a detailed description of the two men, although police did not release the descriptions.


A Baltimore woman has been charged with embezzling $9,600 from the Commercial and Farmers Bank in Ellicott City, where she worked as a teller, county police said.

Donna Lee Stewart, 31, of the 300 block of Westowne Road, is charged with two counts of felony theft and has been fired from her job, police said. The money was taken in $50 and $100 increments over a two-year period.

Police said a bank supervisor notified them last week that $7,850 was missing and that a teller had confessed to the crime.

After an interview, police linked Stewart to the theft of an additional $1,750 from the bank, in the 8500 block of Baltimore National Pike, police said.

Bank officials noticed recently that money which Stewart claimed to have transferred to the bank vault was unaccounted for. Stewart told a police detective "that she had taken the money to pay her own personalbills," court records said.

Stewart, who had been employed at thebank for about four years before her dismissal, was released on her own recognizance.


A family offour was forced from their Fulton home Thursday by an electrical fire that caused approximately $100,000 in damage, firefighters said.

The fire began at about 7 p.m. in the single-family home, located inthe 12000 block of Lime Kiln Road. A fire report lists the home owner as Donald Fentress.

Much of the fire damage was to the roof of the house, firefighters said. Smoke and water damaged the ground floor.

Fentress and three family members were forced to find alternate housing while the damage to the home is repaired, firefighters said.


A compilation of some of the crimes reported to Howard Countypolice:


5300 block Smooth Meadow Way: March 27, electronic equipment was reported stolen at 12:30 p.m. from a home forcibly entered through a sliding glass door.

5600 block Harper's Farm Road: March 26, a 1988 Buick Century was reported stolen at 9:30 a.m. from a residential parking lot.

5900 block Iron Frame Way: March 25, a 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier was reported stolen at 6 a.m. from a residential area.

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