Slain teen, grandmother recalled as 'best friends'

The Baltimore Sun

If there was one soul in the world Jasmine Borum could turn to, it was her grandmother.

When Jasmine clashed with her mother, got expelled from high school and rebelliousness took hold, it was Pauline Borum who took Jasmine in, no questions asked. And when Jasmine, 17, felt the world was against her, she knew her grandmother, known affectionately as Nana, wouldn't leave her side.

Tuesday morning, grandmother and granddaughter were found dead in their home in the 6100 block of MacBeth Drive in Northeast Baltimore, paralyzing their family members with grief and sending shock through this quiet street just east of Belvedere Square.

Police have released little information about the case, including how the two were apparently killed or what rooms they were in and who found the bodies.

Spokesman Donny Moses said police got a call at 8:15 a.m. of two unresponsive women with "obvious signs of trauma." At 8:22 a.m., the two were pronounced dead.

Dazed family members said they had no clue why anyone would want to hurt the two, especially Pauline Borum.

"She is just the type of person who would give her last for anyone," said Shanine Borum, Pauline's daughter-in-law. "She's always there, extremely supportive, a devout Christian. She is just a wonderful woman who did not deserve to die like this. She has no enemies; she does no wrong to anybody."

Shanine Borum said she received a call Tuesday morning from her sister-in-law, Vonda Borum, who is Pauline's daughter and Jasmine's mother.

"She was distraught, crying and begging me to get ahold of my husband," she said.

Pauline Borum, 60, was the matriarch of the clan and led an active life. The mother of two children and a grandmother of six was a security officer for the Environmental Protection Agency at Fort Meade and recently took a part-time security job at Anne's House of Nuts in Jessup, her daughter-in-law said.

If there was a free concert in town, she was there, and always with Jasmine in tow, said Shanine Borum.

'Always together'

"They were best friends. They were always together, every Artscape, every AFRAM," she said. "I used to joke that Nana was the youngest old person I ever knew in my life. She was so busy, no one could keep up with her."

Growing up in Reisterstown, Jasmine was popular with friends, loved fashion and was an excellent sketch artist, said Shanine Borum.

Once she reached her teens, she began defying her mother and misbehaving at school. Pauline Borum agreed to take her in, but the disobedience didn't stop.

Last year, Jasmine was arrested after a fight in Reisterstown that left the victim unconscious. She was tried as an adult and found guilty of second-degree assault and sentenced to three years' probation.

Her aunt, a social worker with the public defender's office in Towson, said she tried to steer her onto a positive path. At one point, Jasmine expressed an interest in moving to Germany to live with her father and stepmother, who is in the military.

Future in fashion

Adults outside the family also saw Jasmine's potential. During a presentence investigation, a parole officer said that despite Jasmine's "tough, defiant facade," she was bright, well-spoken and, with support and counseling, could have a promising career in fashion design.

Jasmine had said her goal was to attend New York's Fashion Institute of Technology.

Recently, Jasmine appeared to be turning a corner, Shanine Borum said. She was attending high school equivalency classes and started a job at a deli in Owings Mills.

"Nana just took her under her wing," she said. "She was trying to change."

Pauline Borum was a doting grandmother eager to cheer on the successes of her family. Last week, Shanine Borum's three children performed a dance at Pauline's church. The grandmother was so excited, she cried, Shanine Borum said.

Neighbors of Pauline Borum were stunned by the killings. The neighborhood just east of the Belvedere Square market was tranquil enough yesterday afternoon that a breeze rustling leaves and the postman lowering the lids of metal mailboxes could be heard.

A TV news crew filmed outside Borum's red-brick rowhouse as two police officers went door to door with fliers stenciled with doves, telling people that "a tragic incident has occurred in your community."

'Nice with children'

"That don't make no sense, it really don't," said Sherese Hill, a neighbor across the street who is a security guard. "She was real nice with children. She gave out Popsicles."

Hill said she moved to the neighborhood seven months ago from the west side of Baltimore to avoid the violence. Now she wonders whether she should take her 12-year-old and her 2-year-old even farther away.

"I moved out of the heart of the city to be someplace nice," she said. "It seemed like I moved to heaven. ... Now I feel unsafe once again."

Borum's home was like the others on the block - two-story, red brick with painted white trim. Unlike many of them, hers had a fenced-in, grassy front yard. Yesterday, little bits of police tape clung to the metal, laced into the mesh along with purple flowers.

Jaime Arribas, who used to live in the neighborhood and owns property in the area was there yesterday working on a home across MacBeth Drive. He said Borum, whom he had noticed in the community for years, did not look like the type to attract trouble.

"I only see her from the car to the apartment and she said to you hi," he said. "She was not a person who talked to everyone. ... She was serious."

Sun reporter Jennifer McMenamin contributed to this article.

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