Preliminary hearing held in slaying case

March 06, 1998


Staff Writer

A judge hearing preliminary testimony Thursday in the Feb. 5 death of a Williamsport man ruled there was enough evidence to send the case to Washington County Circuit Court for prosecution.

Robert Ray Eckard, 20, of no fixed address, is charged in the death of Samuel Lease Wolfe Jr., 59, of Williamsport. An autopsy revealed Wolfe had been strangled and sustained head injuries.

Eckard was charged the next day with first-degree murder, felony murder, first- and second-degree assault, several counts of burglary, auto theft, and several weapons offenses.


Eckard initially was in custody following a wild pursuit initiated by Hagerstown City Police and joined by Washington County Sheriff's Department and Maryland State Police.

The pursuit began when city police officers tried to stop a car that had run over a curb in Hagerstown's West End, police said. During the chase, a sheriff's deputy was injured when his cruiser flipped.

Eckard was being held on chase charges when Wolfe's body was found 12 hours later.

The car Eckard was driving was traced back to Wolfe and when deputies went to his home at 15818 Clear Spring Road, they found Wolfe's body at the bottom of the basement steps.

Thursday's preliminary hearing was held in Washington County District Court before Fred Bower, a visiting judge from Frederick County, Md.

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