An 18-year-old Middle River man found dead on the side of Interstate 95 in Baltimore County had his skull crushed and was asphyxiated with a ligature by an older couple who he used drugs with, state police allege in court documents.

Thomas Pope's body was found Oct. 27 on an access road in the White Marsh area. On Friday, Mark Vonnordeck, 48, and Dawn Surdi, 61, were charged with murder in his death.


Charging documents show how police linked the crime to the couple. Pope's family said he was a drug user and seller, who relied on friends and acquaintances to get around. They had last seen him Oct. 25 at Vonnordeck's trailer, when his father dropped off lunch for him.

That night, one witness tried to call Pope and said an older man answered his phone pretending to be him and asking if the witness "wanted to party." The witness said they asked the person if they could speak with Pope, and the person hung up.

Witnesses told state police that Vonnordeck had been "flashing a lot of money and had a lot of heroin the day after the victim was reported missing," police wrote in charging documents. Vonnordeck, they said, is typically asking around for money or drugs and does not have large amounts.

Before Pope's body was found, investigators visited Vonnordeck and spoke to him and Surdi. They said Pope had been staying with them and left at about 1 p.m. to walk to a nearby Wal-Mart and sell drugs, police wrote in charging documents.

Police pulled surveillance footage that shows Pope leaving the area of the trailer, and a black Ford F-150 leaving almost immediately behind him. Police obtained a search and seizure warrant for their trailer and the truck, and found a pool of blood and blood spatter. Preliminary blood tests linked the blood to Pope.

They also recovered black electrical tape similar to what was found with Pope's body.

Vonnordeck and Surdi were arrested Friday, and court records show they appeared before a District Court judge and were ordered held without bond.

Vonnordeck was previously convicted of first-degree assault in 2002, receiving a sentence of 15 years with all but eight suspended. In 2010, he received more prison time for violating his probation. He has previous convictions for assault, burglary and drug charges.

No attorneys were listed yet for the couple in court records.