Dontay Carter was finishing a three-year prison term when he allegedly concocted the idea for a deadly crime spree that included a killing, three kidnappings and spending binges with stolen credit cards, according to a source involved in the investigation.
The plan called for abducting well-dressed white men from city parking garages and stealing their credit cards, said the source, who would talk about the case only on the grounds that he not be identified. Just eight days after Carter was released from prison, a doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital became the first victim.
The kidnappers apparently intended to kill Dr. Daniel Ford, who was abducted Feb. 7 from the hospital's garage. He was choked and left for dead in the trunk of his car at Mondawmin Mall.
"The ligature marks on the doctor's neck were severe. The force placed around his neck was so strong the victim bled from the eyes," the source said, adding: "These guys thought he was dead in the trunk of that car."
While the physician lay unconscious, Carter, 18, walked into the Motor Vehicle Administration office at Mondawmin and allegedly worked a game he had learned in prison, according to the source.
The source said Carter had obliterated the picture portion of Dr. Ford's driver's license.
Carter allegedly told an MVA employee that the card was damaged in a house fire and asked for another one.
The teen-ager's picture was taken and affixed to a new license with Dr. Ford's name, address and age -- which is 34. Carter is black and Dr. Ford is white.
Later, with Dr. Ford's credit card and the newly forged driver's license to back it up, Carter and his friends allegedly went on a one-night spending spree that totaled approximately $5,000. Included in those purchases were two mopeds, police said.
Carter and two teen-agers have been charged with abducting and robbing Dr. Ford. Carter, of no fixed address, also has been charged in the slaying of Vitalis Pilius, 37, a support engineer with Hewlett-Packard Co.
Clarence H. Woodward, 16, of the 2400 block of Hoffman Street also is charged in the slaying of Mr. Pilius, who was married and the father of four small children.
Last Tuesday, police said, Mr. Pilius was accosted at gunpoint in the parking garage at Harbor Park Cinema, 55 Market Place. While the exact timing is not known, Mr. Pilius was taken within hours to a vacant burned-out house in the 2000 block of Mura Street.
"The victim had his hands tied behind his back," the source said. "He was choked with a belt and beaten in the head with the section of a pipe. They dragged his body face-first across the first floor and put it in the basement."
Mr. Pilius' body was found about 10 a.m. Friday after the Woodward youth was arrested at the Omni Hotel downtown. Police said Carter also was at the hotel, in a 14th-floor room with the other suspect and two women, but escaped when officers were summoned.
Police said Carter altered Mr. Pilius' driver's license using the same method he employed the previous Friday when Dr. Ford was abducted.
Between Tuesday and Thursday, police allege that Carter and his friends paid for numerous items including clothing and the hotel room using the dead man's American Express card. The bill: about $4,600.
Hours after the Pilius slaying, Carter had a close call with State Police when he allegedly tried to rent a car at Budget Rental Car at Baltimore-Washington International Airport with the stolen credit card and the counterfeit driver's license.
A clerk doubted Carter's age -- Mr. Pilius was 37 -- and notified the State Police detachment at the airport.
Chuck Jackson, the State Police spokesman, said yesterday that two troopers went to investigate a "fraudulent credit card report" Tuesday about 10 p.m.
"The two troopers encountered a black male and saw his driver's license and the information matched the credit card," Mr. Jackson said. "There was nothing out of the ordinary. Our officers made a criminal check and an MVA check. There were no grounds to detain him. He was free to leave."
Carter allegedly did just that.
Mr. Jackson said there was "no indication of a discrepancy." He could not say why the two officers, unlike the rental car clerk, were not suspicious of Carter's age.
Also, Carter's signature on an application for the rental car did not match the signature on the credit card. But Mr. Jackson did not know why the two troopers were not as inquisitive as the car rental clerk and pose more in-depth questions to Carter.
A rental car company employee, who asked that his name be withheld, said the BWI office was alerted to be on the lookout for a man who had attempted to use Mr. Pilius' credit card and driver's license at the firm's downtown office.
When the man showed up at BWI and asked for a Ford Explorer or a town car, the employee said he checked the age on the driver's license and realized there "was no way" the man "could have been 37."
Carter allegedly stuffed a third victim into the trunk of a car Friday afternoon but was caught by police after the victim pried open the trunk and attracted attention.
That victim, Douglas Legenhausen, 46, a Baltimore County wholesale jeweler, also was abducted from the Harbor Park garage at gunpoint. Carter allegedly took Mr. Legenhausen's wallet, which contained several hundred dollars.
When he was arrested, Carter was armed with a loaded .38-caliber revolver.
Sgt. Gregory M. Shipley, spokesman for the state Division of Correction, said Carter was released from the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown Jan. 29 -- eight days before the Ford abduction.
Carter served all but five months of a combined three-year sentence at the medium-security institution.
He was convicted of theft and was serving two concurrent sentences for possessing a shotgun and a handgun violation.
Sergeant Shipley said Carter started his prison term June 30, 1989, after being convicted in Baltimore City Circuit Court.