Police try to tie chemist to assault


A search of Alan Bruce Chmurny's house and car six weeks after mercury was found in the air ducts of North Laurel resident Marta Bradley's station wagon turned up a laundry list of items, Howard County investigators testified yesterday - including a bottle of mercury, hair, maps showing her house and this typewritten riddle:

"Question: What's the difference between Marta Bradley and a female bass player that is going to be raped, castrated, have her face mutilated, and have all her fingers on both hands cut off?

"Answer: There is no difference."

The riddle, found in a black briefcase in Chmurny's basement, was among items entered into evidence in Howard Circuit Court yesterday during the second day of testimony in the Frederick chemist's trial on assault, reckless endangerment and malicious destruction charges in the alleged mercury poisoning attempt.

With no eyewitness testimony or confession to directly tie Chmurny to placement of the toxic metallic element in Bradley's Ford Taurus, prosecutor Jim Dietrich used evidence seized by police investigators to try to create a link.

In opening statements Wednesday, Dietrich called Chmurny "a man completely and wholly obsessed with Marta Bradley," his ex-colleague at Oceanix Biosciences Corp. in Hanover.

Chmurny, 57, was arrested June 2, 2000 - two days after a man Bradley identified as the chemist was shown on videotape getting into her car parked at her home and six weeks after the discovery of the mercury.

A search of Chmurny's car turned up a bottle of mercury - about a quarter full - latex gloves and notations of Bradley's address, Howard police Cpl. Brook Donovan testified yesterday. A search of his house on White Oak Drive found the riddle and keys to the station wagon, lead investigator Cpl. Glenn Case testified.

Also found, Case said, were documents showing an Internet search of addresses on Jeanne Court, where Bradley and her family live; a map of the North Laurel area with the notation "MBB" (Marta Bradley's middle name is Beth); a rehearsal schedule for Bradley, who plays the double bass; and papers with "You don't have long" and "You are dead" typed on them. Each item was entered into evidence yesterday.

During a police interview shortly after his arrest, Chmurny denied knowing anything about the mercury and said he was in his neighborhood walking his dog at 1:30 a.m. May 31, 2000 - about the time a man Marta Bradley and her husband identified as Chmurny was videotaped getting into their car in front of their home.

Case also testified that he tried to bluff Chmurny into confessing during the interview, but the attempt "backfired" when Chmurny offered an alibi for one of the nights someone was seen walking by the Bradley home.

After recording on videotape a man getting into the station wagon, stealing the Bradleys' garbage and peering into the car May 26, 29, 30 and 31, 2000, detectives set up surveillance in the Bradleys' neighborhood, Case and Donovan testified. Early on June 1, Donovan said, he saw a man walking toward the Bradley home.

Donovan said he did not stop the man because he didn't think it was Chmurny. After the arrest, Case said, he took "a gamble" that if a man resembling Chmurny was caught on videotape three nights in a row, maybe he would have been there a fourth night. He told Chmurny that Donovan had seen him in North Laurel early June 1.

But Chmurny said he was at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, picking up his mother and wife that night.

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