They were two strangers whose lives converged and ended violently in an area where they both found solitude -- the wooded trails and secluded coves of Loch Raven Reservoir.
One was a 46-year-old contractor and father of a newborn boy, heading for his favorite fishing hole; the other a 26-year-old insurance adjuster unwinding on his motorcycle along a curved, scenic drive.
Police still are trying to find out how and why the two men ended up face down Thursday night in a shallow cove, some 200 yards from a metal bridge on Warren Road.
"No suspects. No motive at this point," Baltimore County police spokesman E. Jay Miller said yesterday. "We're still looking for information from anyone who was in the area."
Vernon A. Smith, the contractor, was found bludgeoned to death near the body of Vincent B. Young, the adjuster, who had been shot several times in the upper torso. Both lived in Cockeysville and did not know each other, police said.
Members of the Cockeysville Fire Department found the bodies shortly after Mr. Smith's family filed a missing person's report about 10:30 p.m. Thursday. His fishing rod and tackle box were found on the shore. Mr. Young's Honda motorcycle was nearby. A trail of blood led to the shoreline.
Mr. Smith may have stumbled upon a homicide scene, said Mr. Miller, adding that residents heard shots about 8:45 p.m. "That's one theory," he said. Mr. Smith's Jeep Cherokee was found later at the Hunt Valley Country Club, about a mile away.
Anyone with information may call county police at 887-2198.
Mr. Smith, who lived on Glendorian Court, leaves two sons from a previous marriage, Ezekiel and Zachary, along with his wife, Patricia, and their 4-month-old son, Joshua. He is the son-in-law of former county fire Chief Elwood "Woody" Banister.
Mr. Smith's family and neighbors packed a viewing room at Lemmon Funeral Home in Timonium last night but declined to talk with a reporter.
Mr. Smith also is survived by his mother, Mary B. Denney of Annapolis; a sister, Dee Orr of Grasonville; and a brother, Albert H. Smith of Annandale, Va. A funeral will be held today at 11 a.m. at Frames United Methodist Church in Phoenix, with burial at Sherwood Episcopal Church Cemetery in Cockeysville.
"[Police] don't know if the Smith man tried to help my son or if my son tried to help the Smith man," said Teresa Young of her youngest child, in a telephone interview from her home in Pittsgrove, N.J.
Shortly before he set out on his motorcycle, Mr. Young talked by phone with Bill Hall, a friend from his hometown in Vineland, N.J. They went to the same high school and often talked about going into business buying and selling cars.
"He just said, 'I'm going to go down to Loch Raven,' " Mr. Hall recalled.
"He loved that area, the little hills and all," Mrs. Young said.
Mr. Young, who lived in a group house on Sherwood Road for the past four years, was an adjuster with Barnes and McKew Insurance Adjusters in Baltimore. He graduated in 1990 with a business degree from Mount Saint Mary's College in Emmitsburg, where his brother Walter of Baltimore graduated seven years earlier.
A free spirit who loved the outdoors, Mr. Young often would hunt rabbits and deer. "He liked being an insurance adjuster because he was on the road and not in an office," Mrs. Young said.
As family members gathered yesterday at the Young home in Pittsgrove, they remembered how Mr. Young's clothes rarely matched and how he would tease his nervous mother about his new motorcycle.
"He was a very intelligent guy. . . . He was very sensitive. He didn't deserve to die this way," said Jenny Young, his sister-in-law.
Mr. Young's funeral will be held Wednesday at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Vineland, where he was baptized. Burial will be at St. Peter the Apostle Cemetery in New Castle, Del. Contributions may be made to the St. Vincent De Paul Society, care of St. Peter's Church at 5th and Harmony streets, New Castle, Del. 19720.