Hundreds attend officer's funeral
The mist blocked the dreary scene outside of the tiny Joppatowne church, where a driving rain had failed to deter hundreds of friends and family members from gathering to honor the life of Leslie A. Holliday, a 34-year-old mother of three who was shot to death last week. Her ex-fiance was charged in the killings.
"She was a fine officer and, above all, a great friend," said her partner, Officer James Howard.
The funeral virtually shut down the Rumsey Island area of Harford County. Officers and family parked along the closed streets leading to the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, while the rest of the visitors were bused from Joppatowne High School, where Holliday graduated in 1989.
Holliday was an only child raised in Harford. She was always motivated to succeed, said her mother, Bernice Johnson, recalling that Holliday had perfect attendance in high school and had taken college courses to become a paralegal. But it was in law enforcement that Holliday seemed to have found her niche.
She had been with the Baltimore department for about 18 months and had been working the midnight patrol shift for eight months. In her brief time with the force, she left a mark on fellow officers as a compassionate and courageous person.
Two viewings were held this week at an Aberdeen funeral home. But to get to the church's main chapel Thursday, visitors had to pass by Holliday's open casket in a narrow hallway. She was dressed in her police uniform, her white-gloved hands clasped. A thin white veil covered her face.
After breaking off her engagement to Eugene Victor Perry Jr., 33, Holliday had begun dating Adam Vazquez, 26, a fellow officer on the midnight shift. Police say Perry - a police officer with the state Department of General Services - sought a position with the city police force and was twice turned down, most recently the week before the shooting.
On Dec. 21, police say, Perry tested his shooting skills at a suburban police firing range before traveling to Vazquez's home, where he used his police-issue weapon to gun down Holliday and Vazquez as they slept. He surrendered to Baltimore County police later that day.
Vazquez, who had served 4 1/2 years on the force, was buried in his native Brooklyn, N.Y., on Wednesday during a service attended by many city officers.
Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm said that he was focused on unifying the department in the wake of the murders.
"Now we've got to pull together and go out there and take care of the job that we were sworn to do," he said.
Friday, Dec. 30, Page 1B
Pennsylvania man dies in accident
A Pennsylvania man was killed Tuesday afternoon in a two-vehicle collision in northeastern Harford County, state police at Bel Air said. Paul A. Miller, 79, of Delta was pronounced dead at the scene after his Chevrolet pickup collided with a Ford pickup about 12:15 p.m. at Route 136 and Line Road in Whiteford, the police said. The driver of the Ford, John Ennis III, 27, of Sparrows Point refused treatment, the police said.
Thursday, Dec. 29, Page 3B
Holiday meals deliver cheer
Wearing a red sweater and white turtleneck, Kevin Michel cruised through the streets of Harford County in a red SUV last Sunday, well-dressed for his Christmas Day task.
The 52-year-old Havre de Grace man spent the early afternoon delivering meals to needy families, assisting the efforts of the Shamrock youth group from St. Patrick Catholic Church.
Michel said he did not realize the color relation of his Ford Explorer to Santa's sleigh.
With more than a dozen warm meals piled into the back of his sport utility vehicle, Michel and Donald Bowlen, another volunteer, delivered to homes and senior citizen buildings. The program was started this year by the youth group, looking to give people in the county a warm meal for Christmas.
"Some of these people, you know this is the only meal they are going to get, and we just like to spend time with them, sit down with them and ask them if there is anything else we can do," said Bowlen, 47, of Havre de Grace. More than 20 youths from Shamrock were assisted on Christmas by dozens of adult volunteers cooking and preparing food, as well as packing and delivering the meals. Others helped serve families that came to the church dining hall for dinner.
Shamrock member Victor Green, 18, of Havre de Grace said he was glad to take a pause from spending time with his family during Christmas to hand out meals.
"The smiles on their faces were really great," Green said, as he helped serve in the dining hall. "They didn't say much - it was the smiles that were thank you."
Another member, Chris Guzman, 16, of Havre de Grace, said many people went far beyond a simple thanks. "People have blessed me so many times today," he said.
In the dining hall, Christmas songs poured from speakers. The smell of turkey and blueberry pie filled the air as people laughed and socialized around tables decked with holiday decorations.
Willie Killibrew, 40, of Havre de Grace was one of the more than 200 people who received dinner in the dining hall.
"This is really good," Killibrew said, as he ate a piece of pie. "The food is good, and the people are good for giving it."
In addition to delivering warm food to the needy, Michel and Bowlen had an unexpected pickup at one senior citizens home in Aberdeen.
As Bowlen was delivering a meal to a residence, he came across 63-year-old Thomas Peterson, upset that he did not have a ride to get to the church dinner.
Bowlen stopped Peterson in mid-sentence and told him: "Go get your coat, we're going to give you a ride."
At the dining hall, Peterson got himself a hearty plate of turkey dinner.
Peterson said he has attended meals at the church for a long time. "This is just something that is really nice to come to for the holiday," he said.
Monday, Dec. 26, Page 1B