Police search for weapon in murder

December 08, 2000

Police search for weapon in murder

By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer

CLEAR SPRING - The manner of murder victim William Leonard Messersmith's death remained a mystery Friday, a day after the 76-year-old man's body was found in a pool of blood in his home at 12019 National Pike.

Preliminary reports from Maryland State Police investigators indicate Messersmith died of severe trauma.

Lt. Joseph A. Barker Jr. said Friday that investigators were still looking for a weapon and were hoping an autopsy report from the Maryland State Medical Examiner's office in Baltimore would reveal the cause of death.

Hagerstown troopers went to the small green mobile home about two miles west of Clear Spring in response to a 911 call around 7:07 p.m. Thursday.

A Washington County Emergency Services dispatcher said a person who was highly upset called for help. State police said the caller was a woman.


Clear Spring Ambulance personnel went to the home but left about 15 minutes later because it was clear the victim was dead and the death was being treated as a homicide, a Clear Spring emergency medical technician said.

The body remained in the house throughout the night Thursday.

Dr. Ernest Uzicanin came out of the home at mid-morning Friday and confirmed there was a deceased man still inside. He wouldn't comment further.

A stretcher from the medical examiner's office was taken into the home around 10:15 a.m. Friday. A van left about 20 minutes later after the stretcher and body were loaded back on.

Special state police investigators from Baltimore and Pikesville arrived at the home throughout the morning Friday. Hagerstown troopers were assigned to provide security at the scene.

The Western Troop Crime Lab vehicle was also seen in the driveway of the small residence with investigators coming and going from it all morning.

At 9:20 a.m., a van from the Washington County Humane Society arrived and an animal control officer went to the home. She returned with a small dog on a leash, put it in the van and drove away.

Nestled behind a salmon-colored house just off National Pike, the Messersmith residence is barely visible from the road.

Most neighbors weren't home Friday but Cora Clopper, who said she has lived at 12008 National Pike all her life, came outside Friday morning to see what was going on across the road.

"I know he's an older man ... I see him driving down the lane to get the mail," Clopper said.

She added that often she would see a young woman and some children there.

"I figured it was his daughter and his grandchildren," Clopper said.

A check of Washington County Circuit Court files revealed that in 1994 Messersmith, then 70, was found guilty of battery against his then 2-year-old daughter and given probation before judgment by Judge Daniel Moylan, now retired.

Moylan dismissed a more serious charge of child abuse against Messersmith, who lived at 700 Tracy's Lane in Hagerstown when that incident occurred, according to court records.

According to court records, two Washington County Narcotics Task Force officers were in the parking lot of the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles on Sept. 23, 1993, when they saw Messersmith strike the child on the head and then on the buttocks hard enough to lift her up off the ground, court records said.

Moylan placed Messersmith on probation for three years and ordered him to attend parenting classes. According to court records, the child's mother didn't live with Messersmith at the time of the 1993 incident.

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