Merchant's death investigated


Baltimore police searched for clues yesterday in the slaying of an enterprising West Baltimore food merchant who was found dead Thursday morning in her home.

Brenda Summers, 56, who ran food businesses at Lafayette and Belair markets and Reisterstown Road Plaza, was found on the floor of a rear second-floor bedroom at her home in the 1800 block of W. Mulberry St.

For the past eight years, her deli in Lafayette Market was a favorite luncheon spot for shoppers, city workers and employees of the shops lining Pennsylvania Avenue. The popularity of her deli prompted her to open the Sweet & Tasty Bakery in Belair Market 17 months ago.

"She grew up around this area, and she wanted to give something back to her people," her goddaughter, Robin McFadden, who worked with Ms. Summers at S&T; Deli, said yesterday. At the counter filled with roast beef, liverwurst and other cold cuts, she added, "Everyone knew her. She just wanted to help people."

Ms. Summers had worked as a nurse before opening the deli, Ms. McFadden said. She also co-owned the Harbor City Bake Shop at Reisterstown Road Plaza.

Willie Mae White, who worked for Ms. Summers at the Lafayette Market before opening the Belair Market bakery with her, called her employer "fun-loving and considerate."

Police spokesman Robert W. Weinhold Jr. said yesterday that no arrest has been made in the slaying, which apparently occurred between 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and 9:50 a.m. Thursday. "We haven't established a motive at this time, but there were no signs of a struggle or ransacking," he said.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke had appointed Ms. Summers to an advisory panel of neighborhood leaders, market merchants and city representatives working to revive the 126-year-old Lafayette Market.

"She was a very enterprising person," said David Borinsky, a lawyer who helped the market's merchants fight a plan to close it for a year for renovations.

"She was a very dynamic woman with a lot of presence, who really lit up the room when she walked in," he added. "She really was a pleasure to deal with."

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