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Two dead in Noland Village shooting

November 28, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Two dead in Noland Village shooting



A 22-year-old mother of two was shot to death by her boyfriend, who then turned the gun on himself at her Noland Village apartment Monday morning, according to authorities.

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Twyna Lee Katherine Stubbs and Craig Allen Hess, 23, of 300 Garden Drive in West Virginia, were found dead in an upstairs rear bedroom of her 1000-E Noland Village apartment around 11:40 a.m. Monday, Hagerstown City Police Chief Arthur Smith said.

Smith said evidence at the crime scene indicated Hess shot Stubbs twice with a large-caliber semi-automatic handgun Monday morning. One bullet hit Stubbs in the torso, but it was unclear where the second bullet hit, he said.

"There was so much blood," Smith said.

Stubbs was found lying on floor. Hess was found slumped against the bedroom door, dead of a single gunshot wound to the head, police said. The gun was found nearby, according to police.

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"It was consistent with suicide," Smith said.

There were no signs of a struggle and Stubbs didn't appear to have defensive injuries, said Smith.

Smith was unsure what led to the shooting or to whom the weapon belonged.

A relative of Stubbs stopped by her home to pick up some clothing around 11:30 a.m. and found the front door had been forced open. The woman went upstairs, pushed the bedroom door open a few inches and could tell something was wrong.

She went next door and asked a neighbor to call police, according to Smith.

When police arrived at the public housing complex apartment, they went inside through the front door, which they found had been kicked or pushed in, and up to the second floor.

They found the master bedroom door closed and could not open it because Hess was lying against it, Smith said.

Officers saw blood from the bodies seeping out from under the door, he said.

A Hagerstown Housing Authority employee was called and helped police enter the home by removing a second-story window in the master bedroom and providing a ladder.

Officers did not force their way into the bedroom through the door because "we didn't want to disturb the evidence," Smith said at the crime scene.

Stubbs' two sons were with relatives at the time of the shooting, Smith said. They were staying with relatives Monday night, he said.

He said he believed that neither of the boys was Hess' son.

Western Maryland Crime Lab forensic chemist Jeff Kercheval was called to the scene from Washington County Circuit Court, where he was preparing to testify.

Kercheval spent the afternoon examining evidence throughout the house.

At least seven dents could be seen on the metal front door of the apartment and what appeared to be a footprint was outlined in police evidence tape.

Smith said the dents had been made previously but the footprint likely was made by Hess.

Crime scene tape was stretched around the rear yard of the apartment and a small fenced-in front yard.

Police removed most of the tape from the yards around 2:30 p.m. after being warned that children would be arriving home from school soon.

As children got off the buses they milled about asking what was happening and joined adults outside their homes watching police come and go.

Police Officer Heather Aleshire and Detective Shawn Schultz dispersed the people lingering outside when Maryland State Chief Medical Examiner's Office personnel backed a van to the front gate of the apartment and removed the bodies, which were to be taken to Baltimore for autopsies.

Police were unsure what time the shootings took place because of conflicting reports from neighbors, said Smith.

Some people said they heard gunshots late Monday morning, but the noise they heard could have been made by city workers removing garbage, said Smith.

He said the shooting mostly likely took place around 7 or 8 a.m. which was when a neighbor told police Hess arrived.

When police got there around 11:40 a.m., it was clear that "they were both dead for some time," said Smith.

Stubbs' neighbor, Jody Doyle, said she heard a bang after 10 a.m. and thought it was a backfire from the garbage truck.

A 3-year resident of Noland Village, she said she had "never seen anything like this."

"It's too close to home. It's way too close to home," she said.

Officers at the scene couldn't remember responding to domestic violence calls at Stubbs' home previously. Neighbor Michelle Stevens said she had seen the couple argue twice.

"They argued but it wasn't that dramatic," she said.

She said Hess could be volatile at times but couldn't believe he could have killed Stubbs and himself.

The couple broke up and then got back together several times, she said.

Stubbs was employed as a dancer and worked hard to support her children, said family friend Peggy Cooper.

Cooper said she was Stubbs' neighbor at Bethel Gardens in Hagerstown a few years ago.

"She was an average 22-year-old girl with two kids, trying to make a living," said Cooper.

Stubbs was "easy to get along with," she said.

Two men who neighbors identified as the victim's brothers, Eric and Jim Stubbs, arrived at the crime scene around 4 p.m. and spoke to detectives.

Overcome with grief and anger at his sister's death, Eric Stubbs shouted repeatedly "Somebody saw something,"

Staff Writer Dan Kulin contributed to this story.

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