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Police seek motive of man who apparently murdered before killing himself


Montgomery and Howard county police say they don't know why a 45-year-old Laurel man apparently killed a Silver Spring woman early Monday morning, then shot himself on a Columbia bicycle path.

A woman walking her dog on the path near Dark Fire Way in the Village of Hickory Ridge said she found the man's body at 8:55 a.m.

He was identified as Franklin Helmuth Vargas, of the 14900 block of Ashford Place in Laurel, said Howard County police spokesman, Sgt. Gary L. Gardner.

Mr. Vargas was unemployed and was staying at his daughter's apartment in the Clary's Forest neighborhood, Sergeant Gardner said.

Mr. Vargas was a suspect in the slaying of Sylvia Antezana, 37, who was shot to death with a handgun in the basement of her townhouse in Silver Spring yesterday morning.

Ann Evans, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County police department, said that Mr. Vargas and Ms. Antezana were "boyfriend and girlfriend at one point."

Ms. Antezana's 10-year-old daughter, who was found handcuffed to a pole in the basement of the Silver Spring home, told police that there was a loud discussion between her mother and Mr. Vargas, Ms. Evans said. Police don't know what the argument was about, she said.

After the exchange, Mr. Vargas said to Ms. Antezana "let's go downstairs" the daughter told police, Ms. Evans said.

Investigators believe Mr. Vargas handcuffed the 10-year-old girl to the pole after her mother was shot so that he could flee from the home. "We can only speculate that the girl heard the gunshot," Ms. Evans said.

Neither the girl nor Ms. Antezana's 4-year-old son were harmed. Both children are staying with relatives, Ms. Evans said.

Police are awaiting the results of ballistics tests to determine if the same gun was used in both shootings, Sergeant Gardner said.

Nancy Valimacki, who found Mr. Vargas' body on the Columbia bicycle path, said the Howard County officers who interviewed her said that many crimes on Columbia's bike paths go unreported.

Ms. Valimacki also said the officers told her that patrol officers call them "felon paths."

Sergeant Gardner said he wasn't aware of such a nickname and that crime on the paths doesn't exceed crime elsewhere in the county.

"Are they [the paths] used by criminals as escape routes or for lurking undetected? Sure they are, absolutely," Sergeant Gardner said. "But there's not any more crime there than anywhere else."

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