A man released from prison in January after serving nearly 10 years in a 1999 killing is wanted in connection with the death of a teen who was found Tuesday gagged with a pillowcase and stabbed.
Police have issued an arrest warrant for Dante L. Parrish, 35, in the death of 15-year-old Jason "Jay" Madison Jr., whose body was discovered in a closet of an East Baltimore home. He had been repeatedly stabbed in the head and throat, according to city police. A department spokesman also said the boy's attacker had a "forced sexual" relationship with the victim.
A friend of the family, who requested that his name not be used, described Jason as a quiet, good child, and said relatives aren't sure how the teen knew the suspect.
"He wouldn't seek out an older person," said the man, who works at a check-cashing company. Jason's grandmother is one of his employees, he said.
"This is a total shock," the man said. "The family is just devastated."
Police say the teenager had been visiting his aunt in the house in the 2400 block of Llewelyn Ave. when he was killed.
Police were first called to the house about 3 a.m. Tuesday for a report that somebody had broken into the dwelling. An officer took a report and left, but another occupant called 911 again about 5 a.m., saying she had discovered blood in her mother's second-floor bedroom.
While police were there, family members reported that Jason was missing and that they saw a box-cutter in the mother's bedroom.
Police searched the room and found Jason's body hidden in a closet.
Residents at the house, an end unit on a block lined with boarded-up homes, declined to comment when approached Wednesday afternoon.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi described Parrish as a "family associate" who has "known the family for some time."
Convicted in 2000 in the 1999 murder of a man in East Baltimore, Parrish won a new trial last year because a judge deemed his counsel "ineffective."
Parrish had served nearly 10 years of a 30-year prison sentence when he was released in January of this year.
It's unclear whether he won the retrial because of intervention by the Maryland Innocence Project, which works to find and overturn wrongful convictions.
The group, based at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, told The Baltimore Sun last year that a "Dante Parrish" had been granted a new trial in a 1999 murder case. But the project's leaders could not be reached Wednesday night to confirm that that Parrish was the same man.
According to the Baltimore state's attorney's office, a former prosecutor misstated the facts of Parrish's 1999 case on the record.
Parrish's defense attorney never objected, leading the judge to order the new trial in 2008.
By then, the only eyewitness had recanted his story against Parrish, and no other evidence was available, authorities say. So in January of this year, the state's attorney's office offered Parrish a plea deal that amounted to time served, and he was released.
Police named him as a suspect in Jason's killing Wednesday afternoon.
Parrish barricaded himself in a Severn house with a loaded handgun when police tried to arrest him on the March 1999 murder charges.
Officers were able to apprehend him without incident after a 20-minute standoff, however, according to published accounts at the time.