Seeking new leads in last week's double slaying at Loch Raven Reservoir, Baltimore County police yesterday revealed a blood-stained baseball cap that might have been worn by the killer.
The dark blue and maroon cap, featuring a painted picture of Donald Duck on the front, was recovered Friday from woods near a secluded cove where two Cockeysville men were found floating in the shallow waters. The bodies had been found the night before, about 200 yards north of the Warren Road bridge.
The hat could be a valuable lead for investigators. They have been working feverishly to solve the slayings of Vernon A. Smith, a 46-year-old contractor who was bludgeoned, and Vincent B. Young, a 26-year-old insurance adjuster who had been shot several times in the upper torso.
"We're not close to an arrest yet," E. Jay Miller, a county police spokesman said yesterday. "We still have no motive and no suspects. We're hoping to gain some new information with the hat. The hat didn't belong to either victim to the best of either family's knowledge.
"We don't know who the hat belongs to," he added. "If someone was fishing or hunting or going through that area and lost it, we'd like to know so that we can eliminate it from the investigation. But anyone out there knowing anyone who owned that type of hat should call us."
Police are not sure whether Mr. Smith or Mr. Young was killed first, the spokesman said. Mr. Miller said there could have been more than one killer, but he would not elaborate on whether evidence points in that direction.
Aside from the cap, police released little information about the investigation yesterday.
Mr. Miller would not discuss whether shell casings had been recovered from the scene or comment on the number of times Mr. Young had been shot. He also would not reveal what kind of instrument was used to kill Mr. Smith or the number of times he had been struck on the head.
"We did recover physical evidence out of the area," Mr. Miller said. "Anything that was not environmentally consistent with the area, we took as evidence, but we decline to discuss any evidence we recovered from the crime scene."
A large patch of dried blood mixed with dirt could be seen yesterday along the side of a path near the cove. Blood-stained paper towels also were lying near the patch of blood. Stained tree roots and dirt marked the path leading to the fishing hole, where a bloody boulder embedded in the ground showed signs of Thursday's struggle.
Police believe Mr. Smith, who was heading to a favorite fishing spot, might have stumbled upon a homicide scene and been killed. Area residents reported hearing shots in the woods around 8:45 p.m. the night of the slaying, police said.
The bodies were found by members of the Cockeysville Fire Department shortly after Mr. Smith's family filed a missing person's report about 10:30 p.m. Thursday. Mr. Smith's fishing rod and tackle box were found along the trail leading to the cove. Mr. Young's Honda motorcycle was found on a nearby parking area.
Police later found Mr. Smith's Jeep Cherokee at Hunt Valley Country Club, about two miles away. A car phone in the Cherokee "had not been used to the best of our knowledge," Mr. Miller said.
Police have no evidence to link the two men, Mr. Miller said, adding, "If anyone knows any sort of link between them, we'd like for them to call and tell us."
Baltimore County police are asking anyone with information to call 887-2198.