A suspect in the fatal stabbing of a Cherry Hill woman and the slashing of her young son was in custody yesterday -- a West Baltimore man who had formerly done repair work for the victim, city police said.
With information that a man identified as a suspect was living there, members of the Warrant Apprehension Task Force staked out a building in the Greenwillow Manor Apartments in the 900 block of Pennsylvania Ave. for more than a day before finding and arresting 34-year-old Alveate Jerome Wallace Monday night.
Wallace -- arrested without incident about 7:30 p.m. as he walked to his car from the building -- is charged in warrants with first-degree murder in the stabbing of Shella Renee Christian, 42, and attempted murder in the attack on her 6-year-old son, whose throat was slashed, police said.
Police said Wallace had done repair work for Christian on several occasions. Investigators have not determined a motive for the attacks.
It is believed that the boy -- whose name has not been made public -- was attacked in order to prevent him from identifying his mother's killer, police said.
"Had the boy's attacker pulled the child's neck backwards and cut his throat, the weapon would have severed his vocal cords, let alone killed him," said Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman. "Instead, it appears the boy's neck was in a forward and downward position when it was cut and that the slashing was not only nonfatal but spared the cutting of his vocal cords."
Christian, a former University of Maryland Medical Center employee who had lived in Cherry Hill for three years, was preparing to move to Las Vegas late last month and had asked her daughter, who lives elsewhere, to find some men to help her move, police said.
She had been dead a day or more when the men arrived Jan. 25 at her home in the 900 block of Seagull Ave.
The door was answered by the wounded boy -- his upper body covered with blood from the throat wound. He had used wet washcloths and towels to stem the flow of blood, and was unable to tell the men what had happened because he had dried blood in his throat, police said.
The men called 911 and the boy was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital's pediatric intensive care unit, where he remains in good condition, Moses said last night.
Officers found the mother in a second-floor bedroom, dead from multiple stab wounds. Evidence showed the attack had occurred a day or two before she was discovered, police said.
Because of the throat wounds and bleeding, the boy had been too weak or too frightened to leave the house and unable to cry out for help, police said.
Wallace was being held without bail at the city's Central Booking and Intake Center.