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Police seek public's help in Huyetts slaying probe

July 03, 2002|by KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

As the investigation into the murder of an 87-year-old Huyetts man heads into its third day, neighbors and passersby are being urged to come forward if they recall seeing any strangers in the area recently.

"We're interested in anyone who didn't belong, like home improvement or repair people working out of a truck or car," said Lt. Bud Frank of the Maryland State Police.

John R. Ward was found stabbed to death in his Huyetts Lane home early Monday morning, police said. He died of severe trauma.

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When Ward's daughter was unable to reach him by telephone at 6 a.m. Monday, she came to his home in the 12000 block of Huyetts Lane and found him, police said.

Of particular interest to police is the time between 6:30 p.m. Sunday and 6:45 a.m. Monday, Det. Sgt. Mike Hegedus said.

Police say they have no suspects and the motive for the murder remains unclear, but they were investigating a number of leads.

It's possible Ward may have known his attacker, Trooper 1st Class Troy McDonough said.

"There are things to indicate that, but it's too early to tell," McDonough said Tuesday.

Ward's body was taken to the Maryland State Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore for an autopsy, Frank said. He said results may be back within a few days.

Investigators from the Hagerstown barrack and the state police Special Investigative Support Unit and Evidence Collection Unit searched the home and surrounding area for clues Monday and were expected to continue working the case from the local barrack at least through today.

The Ward property includes a modest white, two-story house and four outbuildings on Huyetts Lane, which leads to a dead end. The road runs parallel to Md. 63 with a dense wooded area in between.

Frank said the Ward stabbing had similar elements to the December 2000 murder of William Messersmith of Clear Spring, who was found beaten to death in his rural home by a relative. The 76-year-old man lived there alone.

In a four-day trial, Saul Joseph Stanley was found guilty of beating Messersmith to death in a struggle over a bag of money. Stanley and his cousin met Messersmith while conducting a home-improvement scam.

Anyone with information on the crime or any observations in the neighborhood is urged to call Maryland State Police at 301-739-2101 or Crime Solvers of Washington County at 301-733-4141.

Staff writer Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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