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Residents shudder over killing on usually quiet town's street

CUMBERLAND — CUMBERLAND - Amid the mountains and the beautiful scenery of Western Maryland's forests, it's never been hard to feel safe here. But on Saturday, not far from Irma Dezen's jewelry shop on Baltimore Street, a violent incident left a different picture.

Four men and a 15-year-old boy are accused of beating and kicking a mentally ill man to death. The victim's blood remains on the sidewalk not far from carefully painted sage-green benches and concrete planters filled with flowers.

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"I just can't believe it still," Dezen said yesterday. "Sometimes I go to the [nearby] Holiday Inn very early for breakfast. I find myself looking around more. You just become more aware of people. It's very sad."

There is more crime in Cumberland than there once was, but killings remain rare. Officials say the county averages one every 18 months or so - the last occurred in 2001.

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On Saturday, William M. Bodes, 35, who spent a lot of time in jail, died shortly before 3:30 a.m., an hour after being taken to a hospital with severe injuries. Witnesses pointed the finger at five people, including the accused ringleader, 29-year- old William Charles Kinser Jr., a one-time roommate who appeared to have had a feud with Bodes.

"I think there is a sense of shock because we live in a community that doesn't experience things of that nature," Allegany County State's Attorney Michael O. Twigg said yesterday.

Kinser and the other four defendants are charged with first- and second-degree murder; first- and second-degree assault; and manslaughter. All are being held in the county jail. The others are: 18-year-old David Earl Troutman Jr.; 22-year-old Edward Allen Campbell; 24-year- old Nathaniel Irvin Johnson; and 15-year-old Glen Curtis Spencer, who has been charged as an adult.

According to court documents, most of the suspects told police the beating began when Kinser called Bodes a "child molester;" in the same papers, Kinser says one of the others called Bodes a "baby raper." In court papers, the defendants each point to the role of the others in the attack. Several agree that Kinser instigated the fight. Court papers include descriptions of the beating as hard enough to "break bones."

Criminal past

Bodes had a long criminal record over the past 14 years, including charges of child abuse, sexual assault, battery, reckless endangerment, use of a deadly weapon with intent to injure and theft. A friend said he once stole pennies out of a wishing well.

Throughout the 1990s, police charged him with other serious crimes, but prosecutors either dropped those cases or never tried them.

'The victim was well-known to law enforcement," said Steven Friend, a lawyer who represented Troutman at a Monday bail hearing but is no longer representing any defendants in the case. "But no one deserves to die like that."

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Victim attacked before

Jason Porter, 27, watched the attack as he walked up the well-lit street. He says he was too drunk to stop it.

"Everyone piled on this boy like they was flies and kept beating on him until he couldn't move anymore," Porter said. "They tore his nose half off his face. They didn't give that boy a chance. It wasn't the first time he had problems with Billy Kinser."

Kinser was convicted in January of assaulting Bodes in September, according to court records. The court ordered Kinser that month to have no contact with Bodes, according to court records and police. Cpl. Charles Goldstrom, a state police officer who is investigating the homicide, said it is unclear whether last fall's case is related to Bodes' death.

The criminal histories of Kinser, Campbell and Johnson range from drug and alcohol charges to several for assault and battery. They were ordered held without bond. Troutman and Spencer have no apparent criminal histories and were given $250,000 bail, according to lawyers involved in the case.

'Something unsavory'

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The death has caused an unsettling feeling in a community where the distressed economy and cash-strapped schools usually dominate local concerns.

"I think Cumberland's changed a lot. We're getting a lot of seedy, trashy people, a lot of drugs," said 49-year-old Rick Dezen, the son of jewelry shop owner Irma Dezen. "I've lived here all my life. The town's dead. Nothing's open at night. What were they doing out at 2:15 at night? It must be something unsavory."

The Public Defender's Office is representing four of the five defendants, said Michael R. Burkey, public defender for Allegany and Garrett counties. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 15 but Burkey wouldn't comment on the specifics of the case. "It's just a little too early," he said.

Porter said most of the men had spent part of the night at a downtown bar where Porter works on the clean-up crew. He said threats were made against Bodes even then.

Porter said he knows everyone involved in the beating, particularly Kinser.

"I went to jail with him. I dated his mama. I dated his ex-wife," Porter said. "I even went to school with him."

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But he said he can never forgive what he saw that night.

'Is this for real?'

Bodes' funeral will be held today. Porter said the coffin will have to be closed because of the extent of the injuries.

Down the mall, state worker Joyce Goodman was finishing her lunch, recalling when she heard about the man who came to a violent end not far from where she sat.

"I said, 'That happened in Cumberland? Is this for real?'" she said. "Five people beating one person to death - that's horrible in any town."


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