A nephew of a woman who was slain this month outside a Waverly bank was arrested yesterday and charged with setting up the killing by leaking her banking schedule to a violent gang member, city police said.
Danny Paul McGee, 39, who lives in the first block of Slavin Court in Parkville was fired from the family janitorial business two days before the slaying, police and family members said. Detectives said he was not at the shooting scene.
Police said they charged Mr. McGee with first-degree murder because he allegedly gave the killer "essential" information about his aunt's weekly trips to her neighborhood bank, several blocks from Memorial Stadium.
Local authorities, assisted by federal agents, were searching last night for an alleged accomplice. A warrant for first-degree murder was issued for Andre Edwin Allen, 34, of the 3400 block of Wabash Ave.
Investigators believe that the attacker only wanted to rob Pearl Elizabeth Moffett, 72, of the $1,500 she had withdrawn from the Nations Bank branch on Greenmount Avenue the afternoon of June 9. But the victim struggled with the gunman and the robbery "escalated into a homicide," a police spokesman said.
"We believe Mr. McGee conspired with Mr. Allen in making available dates, times and locations where Mrs. Moffett conducted her business," said Agent Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a city police spokesman. "The terms of the alleged conspiracy are unknown at this time, but what we do know is that Mr. McGee provided Mr. Allen with the essential details."
With the arrest in the Moffett case, police said, they also have broken up a "ruthless" gang believed to be responsible for up to 20 recent armed robberies in the city, including the abduction Sunday of a North Baltimore family.
Police said gang members targeted city residents through street robberies, breaking into homes and holding up banks. The apparent connection is drugs.
Police allege that Mr. McGee, the nephew, became acquainted NTC with Mr. Allen by participating in some of those incidents.
Mr. McGee was arrested yesterday about 7 a.m. by U.S. marshals at his home. He denied any involvement in the slaying as he was escorted out of police headquarters yesterday afternoon after several hours of questioning.
"I'm innocent," he quietly told reporters as climbed into a van, headed for the Northeastern District, where a court commissioner ordered him held without bail. "I don't know what's going on." Asked again if he was connected to his aunt's death, he replied, "Not at all."
News of the arrest came as a relief to those who knew Mrs. Moffett, described as a community stalwart who kept her street clean and neighborhood children in line. She lived in a neatly kept rowhouse in the 800 block of Montpelier St.
"I'm glad they caught somebody," said Antoine Harris, 28, who supplies electronic pagers to the Moffetts' employees. "It's got to be hard on the family to learn it's one of their own."
Carl Ryan, 36, a close friend of Mrs. Moffett and a childhood friend of Mr. McGee, said the nephew had been fired from the cleaning service, called Maryland Classic, two days before the slaying.
"We're just relieved that this has all come to an end right now," Mr. Ryan said. "She treated [Mr. McGee] like a son. I can't believe it."
Every Friday, Mrs. Moffett went to the bank, about six blocks from her home, to make a withdrawal intended for payroll expenses for the cleaning business.
Mrs. Moffett was shot in the upper body as she sat on the front seat of her 1987 Chevrolet Blazer.
In an apparent hurry to escape, the killer left the money behind as he drove away in a gray sedan, which police said they recovered a short time later. Police said the woman's purse had been taken.
Police would not detail what led them to the suspects, but interviews with family members and friends provided a glimpse at Mr. McGee's work problems and apparent involvement with gang members.
Investigators described the gang as "organized, violent and very ruthless."
Police said the group targeted city residents in a recent crime spree involving 15 to 20 robberies of people and banks.
Authorities linked the group to an incident Sunday in which a family of three was abducted and forced to withdraw money from an automated teller machine.
Yesterday, police charged Mr. Allen and another alleged accomplice, Paul Matthews, 31, of the 1500 block of N. Chapel St., in the abduction of a North Baltimore family. Mr. Matthews, who was arrested last night about 8:30 p.m. in the 1800 block of Patterson Park Ave. in East Baltimore, and Mr. Allen are charged in warrants with kidnapping and robbery.
Agent Weinhold said two men broke into a house and forced a man, his wife and 1-year-old child into a car, and ordered them to drive to an ATM machine in the 3100 block of St. Paul St.
They were left there unharmed after the robbers got an undisclosed amount of money.
Police said the group also is connected to a recent bank robbery, in which one of the gang members allegedly dressed as a woman and held up the Hopkins Federal Savings Bank in the 100 block of S. Eaton St. on June 16.
Agent Weinhold said Mr. Allen also has been charged in connection with a Baltimore County bank robbery.
Since 1990, Mr. Allen has faced at least 10 drug charges. Three years ago, he was found guilty on drug charges after an East Federal Street rowhouse was raided and cocaine and guns were seized.
He received a seven-year suspended sentence.
Mr. McGee also has a criminal record. Since 1983, he has been charged with battery, theft, and breaking and entering. He was found guilty of theft twice, and once was sentenced to one month and two days in jail.
"This world is going nowhere," said Mr. Harris. "Families are killing each other. Friends are killing each other. You have to always watch your back. You never know who is after you."