Dundalk man arrested in father's fatal shooting

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A 78-year-old retired Dundalk mechanic was fatally shot yesterday morning in his house. Baltimore County police said the victim's 41-year-old son called 911, waited for officers to arrive and then told them he shot his father.

The son, Joseph John Vavrek, was being held without bail last night at the Baltimore County Detention Center on a first-degree murder charge, said Officer Shawn Vinson, a county police spokesman.

The younger Vavrek, who was known as "Johnny," lived with his father, Joseph Vavrek, in a stone cottage in the 2100 block of Merritt Blvd.

The motive for the killing was unclear yesterday, police said.

Paramedics and police were called to the house for a man possibly having a heart attack by the younger Vavrek about 12:30 a.m., Vinson said.

The son was standing on the front lawn when officers arrived. Police found the elder Joseph Vavrek lying on the living room floor, dead from a single gunshot wound in the chest, according to charging documents.

Vavrek, whose wife died several years ago, was pronounced dead about 12:40 a.m., Vinson said.

According to the charging report, police said Vavrek admitted killing his father.

Relatives of the Vavreks could not be reached for comment.

Ruth Shifflett who lives next door said the son and father occasionally argued.

"I sometimes heard them," she said. "But I never thought something like this would happen."

Hours before police discovered Vavrek, he had stopped by Shifflett's house to deliver a pot of crab soup he'd made.

"He did things like that all the time -- bringing cakes by. He also delivered food to the homeless in the area," she said.

She let her 8-year-old son go next door with Vavrek's son to set off firecrackers later that evening.

Angie Mangione, who has lived on the street for 40 years, said the Vavreks had two daughters and the son charged in the slaying.

The son "had it hard, especially after his mother died and one of his sisters passed away a year later. He was depressed," Mangione said.

But, she said, "He loved his father. I'd see him walk by every day, and I asked about his father. He'd always say, 'He's fine. I'm taking good care of him.'"

"They were good people," she said.

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