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A dismembered body found in Baltimore leads to arrest, more questions

A dismembered body found in Baltimore leads to arrest, more questions
Lawrence Banks is charged only with illegally possessing a firearm and ammunition, but the probable cause affidavit against him in the gun case focuses almost exclusively on his daughter’s death. (Baltimore Police Department)

A weekslong quest to identify a woman who was found covered in garbage inside a Baltimore shopping cart — her hands, feet, lower legs and head all missing — led police to the woman’s father: a Baltimore man previously convicted of murdering his own son and another man.

Lawrence Banks, 65, of the 4000 block of Clarks Lane, has not been charged in connection with the death of his daughter, Dominique Foster, 43, although the gruesome killing figures prominently in a probable cause affidavit released Friday. Banks is charged only with illegally possessing a firearm and ammunition recovered from his Northwest Baltimore apartment on Wednesday as police investigated Foster’s death.

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Banks appeared on a video feed in district court Friday and was ordered held without bail by Judge Michael Stephen Studdard. Foster’s death was not mentioned in the court proceeding, but court records from the gun case focus almost exclusively on her death.

Foster’s body was found May 12 wrapped up and placed inside of a shopping cart at the Clarks Lane Garden Apartments. A nearby resident told responding officers she did not see anything out of the ordinary but heard some arguing on the night of May 10. A security camera video from that day obtained by police showed a man with a limp in a white jacket and hoodie wheeling a shopping cart toward the lot where Foster was found.

In May, police distributed images of the woman’s tattoos to local media, hoping it would help identify her. But police never mentioned the dismemberment.

Then on Wednesday, members of Foster’s family called detectives and positively identified Foster’s tattoos. They said Banks and Foster were father and daughter and lived together in the apartment adjacent to the crime scene.

Police then obtained a warrant and searched Banks’ apartment in the Glen neighborhood. Detectives found blood, computers, cellphones, counterfeit money, a yellow raincoat, a pair of boots and a .380 caliber handgun with five bullets in the magazine, according to the affidavit.

One of Dominique Foster’s daughters, who did not want to be named because she feared for her safety, described her mother as a loving, caring and happy person.

“We’re just in disbelief. I still feel like she’s going to call me,” the woman said. “She was everything. She was my best friend.”

Foster’s family described her on an online fundraiser as a mother of six and “absolutely beautiful inside and out. Her heart was pure as gold, everyone that knew her adored her.”

The fundraiser is to cover the family’s funeral expenses.

“Police discovered her lifeless body on Mother’s Day. My siblings and I want to give her a proper burial for a last Mothers Day gift,” they wrote.

According to the affidavit, one of Dominique Foster’s daughters told police about Banks’ criminal past.

Court records show that in 1976, Banks was sentenced to 15 years in prison for throwing a 7-month-old baby through a glass door during an argument with his wife, Vivian Banks. Shortly before that case went to trial Vivian Banks was found dead in an East Baltimore apartment. Her body was so decomposed that the medical examiner could not determine a cause of death.

No one has been charged in Vivian Banks’ death.

Lawrence Banks was convicted of two other killings. Prosecutors said he shot a friend in Pasadena and then his own son in Baltimore on the same day in 1991, according to court records. Prosecutors said Banks was angry because his son and one of his daughters accused him of abusing them.

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Banks was convicted of the murders and released from prison in 2002 after receiving “good time credits.”

But allegations of violence continued. In 2006, his then-girlfriend's daughter, Lisa Laverne Brown, filed a protective order, claiming she feared Banks. Brown and her daughter, Labria, were killed days later in Laurel.

Prince George's County police questioned Banks, and asked Banks' parole agent to find violations that could keep him behind bars as they built a case.

Police never found enough evidence to charge him with the murders, but the Maryland parole commission returned him to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence, calling him a threat to others. He was released again in 2014.

A public defender told the judge that Banks is a father of six with a master’s degree from Towson University. He is a retired housing inspector and lives off his Social Security payments. She said Banks volunteers at the Baltimore Station for Veterans, a city anti-violence group, and is a member of the Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Northwest Baltimore.

Banks, who has short-cropped hair and wore a yellow jumpsuit, stood at the end of the hearing and asked the judge to reconsider and grant him release on bail. He said the gun belonged to a relative, but the judge would not budge.

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