Neighborhood where girl found dead long trouble-spot for crime

The Darley Park neighborhood in Northeast Baltimore, where 13-year-old Monae Turnage's body was found Sunday evening under plastic bags behind a house on Cliftview Avenue, has long had issues with violent crime.

The girl was found a block from where 12-year-old Sean Johnson was shot and killed in May of last year while sitting on a front porch watching a basketball game.

It's also around the corner from where police Detective Michael Rice was shot in March 2011, near a strip of shops along Harford Road, and where another detective, Michael J. Cowdery Jr., was shot and killed in March 2001 when he interrupted a drug deal.

I wrote a column on the area last year after Rice was shot:

    Ten years. Two cops shot. One city block. It's no safer now than it was back then.
    After the man convicted of shooting Cowdery was sent to prison for life without the chance of parole, the slain officer's father from Philadelphia tearfully addressed the public, saying he hoped other parents wouldn't have to experience what he went through. "I hope this sends a clear message to people in the underworld," he said.
    It didn't.
    City leaders are still struggling to bring order to this part of Harford Road. Their anger remains palpable, their promises of more patrols the same, their frustrations over repeat violent offenders wreaking havoc a familiar refrain.
    Police commanders sent Rice to this very spot because of failures of the past.
    "We picked this stretch along Harford Road because of the level of violence in that neighborhood and the frequency of the people armed in that neighborhood," Bealefeld said at the hospital just hours after the shooting Friday night

Now, the city and the neighborhood has another death to mourn, this time a 13-year-old girl who left her house to go skating and never returned. It's not yet clear whether she lived in Darley Park, or even if she was killed there, but her body adds to a mounting toll for this desolate patch of real estate north of the Eastside District Courthouse.

Two other people died violent deaths in the city this weekend -- a man shot in Upton in West Baltimore and another killed in a fight in front of a convenience store in Northeast Baltimore. But Monae's death will resonate -- innocence lost.

In 2001, The Baltimore Sun profiled the neighborhood after a police sweep that promised to restore order to the Harford Road corridor, after the police detective was shot and killed. Neighbors described it back then as a "war zone."


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