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Man held in boy's slaying

November 22, 2000

Man held in boy's slaying



By DAVID DISHNEAU / Associated Press Writer


Christopher Ausherman

Christopher Ausherman

Elmer Spencer Jr.

Elmer Spencer Jr.

FREDERICK, Md. - A mentally retarded man with a history of sexual offenses was charged Tuesday with killing a 9-year-old boy, whose naked body was found in a dugout at a baseball field, police said.

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Elmer Spencer Jr., 44, was arrested at a homeless shelter Monday night, less than a week after he was released from prison, Police Chief Regis Raffensberger said.

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Christopher Ausherman's body was found Monday morning at McCurdy Field after someone, whom police said they believe was Spencer, called 911 Sunday night to report that he had seen a boy being beaten up at a ballpark, Raffensberger said.

Spencer was released Nov. 14 from the Maryland Correctional Training Center south of Hagerstown after serving about four years of a 10-year sentence for assault and escape, said Leonard Sipes, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Spencer was released early because of good-time credits accrued during the more than 13 years he served of a previous 22-year sentence for sexually assaulting a child, Sipes said.

Spencer was tracked down through an acquaintance who identified him as the man seen with the boy in videotapes taken at two convenience stores, where the suspect bought items for the boy, police said.

"This tape is rather clear. It showed the individual coming to the store, followed by an individual who pointed to something. The victim picked up something and took it to the counter.

"The suspect apparently paid for it. I don't know what the items were," Raffensberger said.

A bond review hearing, which police had originally said would be held Tuesday afternoon, was postponed until Wednesday for Spencer, who was charged with first-degree murder.

Police said the child had suffered blunt force trauma, but police have not said whether the child was sexually assaulted or released the cause of death.

Police said they received the anonymous 911 call at 9:10 p.m. Sunday, about 31/2 hours after the boy was last seen by his mother.

"The initial language that he used was that he had seen a boy being beaten up at a ballpark," said Lt. Thomas Chase.

Spencer, who once worked as a dishwasher in Mount Airy, Md., was convicted of assault as a result of a plea-bargain agreement in a 1996 case in which he was initially charged with attempted rape, sexual offense and assault of a woman in Frederick, according to court documents.

Earlier in 1996, Spencer was also charged with third-degree sexual offense, assault and battery of a 7-year-old girl in Frederick. Those charges were later dropped, according to court documents.

Spencer, who is mentally retarded, also was released in 1994 from state prison after serving more than 13 years for sexually assaulting a child, the records showed.

The boy's mother, Mary Voit, said she learned Monday from police that investigators believed the dead boy was her son.

"He asked me if he could go up to a friend's house to play, and I said 'Yeah, but don't go nowhere else,"' Voit, 37, was quoted as saying in published reports.

Alice Wetzel, a cousin of the child's mother, said Tuesday that Voit was staying with her two other sons at her mother's house because she could no longer stand to stay in her public housing apartment.

"She hasn't had any sleep. She says every time she lays down, she sees poor little Chris' face," Wetzel said.

Another resident in the complex of pale yellow rowhouses, Charlotte Cavell, said she had worried in the past when she saw children playing in the area without adult supervision.

"Many times, I've told their mothers watch y'all's children because something like this is going to happen," Cavell said.

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