Wet weather slows hunt for fugitive

Sun Reporters

While Joseph C. Palczynski's mother was expected late last night to pleadfor him to turn himself in, police continued their search for the mansuspected of four killings who fled briefly to Virginia before returning hometo eastern Baltimore County, where residents have grown increasingly nervous.

Hampered by the bad weather, which grounded aerial surveillance and dulledthe trail for bloodhounds, law enforcement authorities combed the BowleysQuarters area all day yesterday but did not find him.

They discovered early yesterday that Palczynski -- who is 31 and describedas a lifelong outdoorsman -- had escaped Friday to Virginia, stolen weaponsfrom a home there and then forced a Virginia man early yesterday to drive himback to the eastern side of Baltimore County, where the events began Tuesday.

Despite rain and poor visibility, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, state police and Baltimore County police continued theirround-the-clock search for Palczynski yesterday in the woods and on thestreets, at one point searching vehicles driving in and out of Carroll IslandRoad.

Residents who have been captivated and terrified by the week's events inthe typically quiet eastern Baltimore County community have armed themselveswith baseball bats, loaded guns and knives scattered through their homes.

Police believe Palczynski is wearing layers of clothing -- some camouflage,some flannel -- and is carrying a .22-caliber revolver. He might also have aknife, they said. Police believe he was last seen about 7 a.m. yesterdayleaping a fence on Orems Road.

"He's smart. He's daring. He has been in an element that he has been verycomfortable with," said Maj. Brian Uppercue, a county police spokesman,referring to the thick woods where Palczynski is believed to be hiding.

"The officers are hesitant to go into dark woods because they can beambushed," he said.

The series of shootings this week and subsequent searches have brought thecommunity to a standstill, especially in the evening when many storekeepersare shutting their doors early, replacing their typical goodbyes to customerswith warnings such as "be careful" and "get home before dark."

Court records show Palczynski has a history of mental illness and hasrepeatedly assaulted former girlfriends and their families.

Neighbors in the heavily wooded waterfront community hurried home yesterdayto lock themselves indoors and break out weapons for protection if they weresurprised by the suspect who has eluded police for days.

"I borrowed a small handgun that we keep in the house loaded now," said JimMarcum as he shopped for food and bird feed at a local Safeway. "I think a lotof people are on guard."

Carl Pucci echoed his neighbors' concerns from the parking lot of aRite-Aid drugstore.

"I've put knives in strategic locations, so if he came in we would havesomething around," he said. "It's incredible that one person can cause such astir and disrupt so many people's lives."

Even people who said they don't believe in guns felt compelled to have somekind of protection.

"I don't own a gun, but I'm looking at buying one," said Deanna Schepling,53. "What am I going to do living alone, if this lunatic came near my house? Inever felt the need for one, but this is making me want to have one. Thepolice can't catch him."

Sandy Bochenek, who lives about a mile from the apartment complex whereTuesday's shootings occurred, said she won't have a gun in the house with hertoddler daughter, but "I went to my mother's and got a baseball bat becauseour dogs would just lick him to death."

"I don't open the windows," she said. "I keep the outside lights on. I feellike I'm watching my back. Everybody that walks by -- a guy -- I don't know.He could be disguised."

Palczynski has been hunted since Tuesday evening when, police say, he wentto an apartment in the 3700 block of White Pine Road, kidnapped his estrangedgirlfriend Tracy Whitehead, 22, and shot two people who had taken her in --49-year-old George Shenk and his wife Gloria, 50. Palczynski is accused ofgunning down 42-year-old David Michael Meyers, a neighbor of the Shenks, whenhe came to Whitehead's aid.

Police believe Palczynski surfaced again shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday,fatally shooting Jennifer McDonel, 37, in her car at the 8600 block ofEbenezer Road during an attempted carjacking. A 2-year-old boy riding with hismother in another car was also grazed by a pellet from the carjacker'sshotgun, police said.

Within minutes, police say, he stole a car at gunpoint from an 81-year-oldRosedale woman who was not injured.

Two hours later, at a Rosedale motel, Whitehead escaped her captor, whofled on foot, leaving behind the stolen car with a shotgun and rifle, policesaid.

Federal investigators charged Constance Ann Waugh, 48, of the 12500 blockof Gracewood Avenue in Chase, Friday with illegally purchasing the weapons forPalczynski.

Friday afternoon, Baltimore County police were in southeastern HarfordCounty looking for Palczynski, but they later theorized that he had hopped afreight train to southwestern Caroline County, Va., about 120 miles south ofWashington, D.C.

Virginia state police reported that sometime after 7: 30 a.m. Friday, a manbelieved to be Palczynski broke into a home near the railroad and stole a 1989Ford pickup truck, a 12-gauge shotgun, a .22-caliber revolver, food andclothing. He headed north on Interstate 95.

When the truck ran out of gas about 25 miles later near Woodford, the manditched it -- and the shotgun -- walked to a nearby brick rancher and forced53-year-old William Terrell to drive him back to Baltimore County.

He first offered Terrell about $100 to drive him back to Maryland butTerrell refused, police said. He then displayed a handgun and Terrellcomplied, police said.

"I can only tell you he came to the door agitated [and] asking if someonecould take him to get gas," said Investigator J. E. "Skip" Samuels, of theCaroline County (Va.) Sheriff's Office. "There was no physical confrontation."

Eight hours later, Terrell's wife reported him missing to the sheriff'soffice, which notified the FBI. Mrs. Terrell told officials the gunman gaveher a different name, but Palczynski's mother's address.

Police found the Terrells' truck on Carrollwood Road in Bowleys Quarters --near where Palczynski lives -- early yesterday morning.

As the search continued yesterday morning, about 100 friends and familygathered at a Dundalk funeral home to remember one of the first victims of theshootings.

David Meyers, 42, the neighbor who was killed trying to help Whitehead, wasdescribed as a "hero" and "filled with love."

Sun staff writers Tim Craig and Mark Ribbing contributed to this article.

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