Baltimore County police announced they had a suspect yesterday in the slaying of Debra Anne Goodwich seven months ago at her parents' Green Spring Valley home: a handyman.
Wallace Dudley Ball, who had been hired by the Goodwich family to do roofing work, was indicted by a Baltimore County grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of the 19-year-old woman.
Police said Mr. Ball, 33, whose last known address was at 2-B Bitter Root Court in Owings Mills, remained at large and was considered armed, desperate and extremely dangerous. Police said he has threatened a number of people involved in the case.
The suspect also has used the name Wallace Zito, police said. Court records show a string of arrests on various charges.
"His name had surfaced in the beginning of the investigation," said E. Jay Miller, a county police spokesman, who would not elaborate on details of the investigation. "But it only became a serious lead recently. We got information from various sources."
Mr. Ball and Miss Goodwich met while he was doing roofing repairs at her parents' home in the 7900 block of Greenspring Ave., in the Stevenson area, last March and April, police said.
Although Miss Goodwich had moved to an apartment in the 800 block of Park Ave. in Baltimore three weeks before she was killed, police said she frequently spent time at her parents' home.
It was during a visit there to pick up her mail Sept. 30 that she apparently interrupted a burglary.
After a brief struggle, police said, Miss Goodwich was shot several times in the chest. Her mother, Arlene Goodwich, found her body in the living room.
The victim's car, a 1988 maroon Honda Accord, was found parked in a Randallstown-area apartment complex off Liberty Road a few days after the murder.
Police were searching for clues to the slaying on The Block, where Miss Goodwich, unknown to her parents, had been working as a dancer at the Stage Door bar while attending Catonsville Community College.
Authorities said yesterday that The Block had nothing to do with her killing.
All along they believed it was a case of breaking and entering. The house had been ransacked, the telephone and alarm lines cut, and several hundred dollars and some jewelry taken.
Hoping for leads in the slaying of their daughter, Walter and Arlene Goodwich, along with Metro Crime Stoppers, offered a reward of up to $25,000 for any information leading to an arrest and indictment.
Police would not comment yesterday on the sources of information linking Mr. Ball to the crime. The parents could not be reached for comment.
Miss Goodwich's friend, Bonnie Miranda, said she never met Mr. Ball but remembered her saying, " 'There's some guys working on our house.' She just said they were loud and noisy."
Ms. Miranda, 20, had known Miss Goodwich since they went to the private Garrison Forest School together.
They stayed friends after transferring to different public high schools, and Ms. Miranda was one of the few people who knew that her friend was working on The Block.
News that authorities had a suspect so many months after the killing brought back a lot of memories to her.
"At first I didn't even react. Then I just started crying," Ms. Miranda said. "There she was all over the TV again. Then the most profound sense of anger -- I hope they find this guy before I do."
But she was not convinced. "I'm very skeptical of just about everything," she said. "I can't believe it's been so long and then all of a sudden they find someone and tell you it's this guy."
Another friend of the victim, Damon Lewis, was more convinced. "That would explain a lot of things about the house," said Mr. Lewis, 23, who attended Pikesville High School with Miss Goodwich. "He would know how the security system works and where everything was."
But he wondered, "I just can't believe that someone who would have known her the slightest bit could have done something like that. She was always the friendliest person, she was very easy to get along with, she was so bright and cheerful."
Mr. Ball was described by police as an avid fisherman and outdoors type, who may be working as a roofer or carpenter, or in the commercial or recreational fishing industry.
Investigators believe he might be in the James River area of Virginia -- possibly in Richmond, Williamsburg, Newport News, Portsmouth or Norfolk -- or in the New Orleans area.
Anyone with information about the suspect's whereabouts is asked to call county police at 887-2198, or contact local authorities in any other jurisdiction.