Baltimore reaches 200 homicides with man's fatal stabbing

Baltimore officially has had 200 homicide victims in 2016 after an autopsy confirmed a 42-year-old man found dead Friday just west of downtown had been fatally stabbed.

The victim, identified Monday as Franswhaun Smith, was found Friday about 7:50 a.m. in the 700 block of Murphy Lane, in the Heritage Crossing neighborhood that was formerly the site of the Murphy Homes public housing development.


Smith was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said an autopsy confirmed he had been stabbed in the back.

It is the fifth consecutive year Baltimore's homicide tally has reached 200 after recording 197 in all of 2011. That was the first time the city had recorded fewer than 200 victims since the late 1970s.


Last year, 344 people were killed in Baltimore, the city's highest highest-per capita rate ever.

As of Aug. 20, the most recent data available, homicides were down 11 percent compared with the same time last year, while nonfatal shootings were up slightly, from 414 at that time last year to 427 this year.

Police did not release any additional details about Smith's death. They asked anyone with information to call detectives at 1-866-7LOCKUP.

Court records show Smith pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1998, receiving a sentence of 30 years with all but five years suspended. After three violations of his probation, he was sentenced to 15 years of the suspended time in 2004. A spokesman for the state prison system confirmed Smith was released in July 2014.

Attempts to reach relatives were not immediately successful.

Smith was one of several recent homicide victims. Over the weekend, police arrested 23-year-old Jerome Arnold and charged him with first-degree murder in the death of a woman he confessed to killing in a wooded area in Brooklyn.

The investigation began when police in Howard County received a call Friday afternoon from a relative of Arnold's in Ellicott City, who suspected that Arnold may have been involved in a crime in Baltimore. Arnold was taken to Baltimore police headquarters, where he told police he had killed Lisa Studley, 36, and left her body in a wooded area off St. Margaret Street, according to charging documents.

Police found Studley's body on the ground with head trauma and in a pool of blood, police wrote in charging documents.

Arnold described Studley to police as his girlfriend, and said he had lured her into the woods using a ruse that he wanted to "talk." He then struck her several times in the head with a hammer, police said.

Arnold said he put his bloody clothes into a backpack and put on a new outfit. Police later recovered the backpack and bloody clothes.

Attempts to reach Studley's family were not successful.

Arnold appeared Monday before a district judge and was ordered held without bond pending trial. He did not have a lawyer listed in court records.


A 48-year-old man also was shot in the chest in West Baltimore early Monday, police said.

Officers were called at 1:55 a.m. to the 2300 block of Lauretta Ave., where they found the victim, who was not named.

Police did not release the man's condition, but said he was conscious and breathing when he was taken to a hospital.

Anyone with information may call 410-396-2221 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP.

Baltimore Sun reporter Colin Campbell contributed to this article.

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