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Woman found dead in walkway

Baltimore homicide detectives are investigating the slaying of a city woman whose body was found yesterday in a walkway leading to the Inner Harbor, a killing that has touched off fears among downtown merchants and employees.

Investigators did not release the woman's identity last night. They said the killing does not look to have been a random attack and was most likely committed by someone who knew the victim.

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The woman, described as a black female in her mid-30s, had planned to meet with someone just before the attack and was probably killed several hours before her body was discovered near the Baltimore Convention Center at 6:30 a.m., police said.

She was found in the walkway in the first block of W. Pratt St., police spokesman Troy Harris said. Police believe she died of trauma to the head, Harris said, though he did not provide specific details.

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The woman's murder made several people who work in the area nervous about staying late or arriving early.

Jacqueline McClary, 38, arrives early many mornings for her data management job in the Bank of America building, located next door to the Convention Center.

She said she has used the walkway in the past and the killing made her leery about taking that route again.

"I walk here sometimes by myself," she said. "It makes you wonder what is going on. Something is always happening. ... It makes me nervous to work that close to a murder."

Kathryn Corea, 28, a marketing director for an accounting firm in the Bank of America building, said the death made her feel "really uptight."

"I'll be looking over my shoulder," said Corea, who also lives a few blocks from the killing scene. "I'll probably walk with other people."

Eugene "Tom" Yeager, a vice president of the Downtown Partnership, was at the scene yesterday morning. He said the partnership's safety guides do not patrol the skywalks or any area above ground level -- city police check those places.

Yeager and other partnership officials have been concerned about poor lighting on the skywalks and homeless people causing problems for workers using the walkways.

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Though not responsible for the skywalks, the partnership has been working for better lighting in the area, Yeager said.

Mike Evitts, public relations director for the Downtown Partnership, said there are video monitors throughout downtown but none in the area where the woman was found.

"Baltimore is a city that has been struggling with violence in many of its neighborhoods, but downtown is not one of those neighborhoods," Evitts said. "Statistically, downtown is one of the safest areas of the city."

The woman's death brings the number of homicides this year to 181, compared with 164 during the corresponding period last year, Harris said.


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