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Carroll woman feared slain in N. Carolina Suspect in killing is man she may have met on the Internet


A North Carolina man was charged yesterday with killing a Carroll County woman who apparently met him on the Internet and traveled south to see him, authorities said.

A body believed to be that of Sharon R. Lopatka, 35, of Hampstead, was found Friday in a shallow grave near the home of the suspect in Lenoir, N.C.

Authorities said personal belongings found in the home indicated that the body was Lopatka's, but they were awaiting confirmation through an autopsy.

Never arrived in Georgia

Lopatka left her home in the 1700 block of Indian Court on Oct. 13, supposedly to visit friends in Georgia, said Capt. Greg Shipley, a Maryland State Police spokesman. After a week without contact from Lopatka, family members learned she never arrived in Georgia.

Police obtained information from her home computer that she had been corresponding with Robert F. Glass, 45, through e-mail on the Internet and had made arrangements to visit him in Lenoir.

Lopatka's husband, Victor, found her car Sunday night, parked at Baltimore's Pennsylvania Station, Shipley said. Authorities presumed she took the train to North Carolina.

Body near suspect's home

The body was found buried about 35 yards from Glass' house, police said.

Neighbors in Hampstead said Lopatka and her husband were quiet people who kept to themselves.

Attempts to reach Victor Lopatka were unsuccessful.

"They're nice, quiet people," said Craig Walker, a neighbor. "I've never heard any problems between them or from there. She was a stay-around-the-house type and he was a bit more athletic.

"It seems very strange that something like this would happen to them. From the outside, things seemed normal and fine with them," said Walker, 44.

Police advise caution

"It certainly is an unusual case," Shipley said. "It shows everyone should be very cautious in who you're communicating with via the Internet, especially when you have no idea who they are."

Glass was being held in the Catawba County, N.C., jail.

Pub Date: 10/27/96

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