1997 proves deadlier for county

March 27, 1998


Staff Writer

While Washington County's overall crime rate was virtually unchanged in 1997 compared with the previous year, there was a sharp increase in the number of homicides.

Six homicides were committed in Washington County in 1997 compared to just one the year before, according to statistics from the Maryland State Police Uniform Crime Reporting System.

While homicides in the county often have resulted from domestic violence, police said only one of the six could be characterized that way - the May 5 slaying of Suzanne Garde on Garis Shop Road near Funkstown.


The others were related to other criminal activity.

Three of the four that occurred in Hagerstown had similarities. In each case, a man from another state was shot in the head at close range. Those 1997 homicides were:

* Michael Eric Mackason, shot to death March 23 on West North Street. Two arrests have been made.

* Eric "Supreme" Williams, shot to death July 7 on Lanvale Street. No arrests have been made.

* Christopher Young, shot to death on Bethel Street Nov. 23. One arrest has been made.

Authorities believe drugs played a role in all three shootings.

The other city case was the robbery and slaying of Matthew Hovis behind the Alexander House Aug. 25. Two arrests were made.

The other slaying in the county also occurred during an incident that began Aug. 20 in which Darrius Fetterhoff was robbed and pushed over a cliff. He died of his injuries Aug. 28.

The charges against the man first implicated in that slaying were later dropped when the state's chief witness disappeared. The investigation is still open.

The overall crime rate for the county declined just 0.3 percent in 1997.

Rapes reported in the county rose from 23 in 1996 to 31 last year, statistics showed.

Robberies, aggravated assaults, break-ins and car thefts also increased in 1997.

The only drop was in the categories of thefts, the statistics showed.

Overall in Maryland, crime went down 7 percent in 1997. Violent crimes dropped by 9 percent while car thefts and murders showed the biggest declines, 15 and 14 percent respectively.

Violent crime decreased 7 percent in the Western Maryland region, including Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties. Violent crime consists of murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crime increased 0.5 percent. Property crimes include breaking and entering, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft.

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