Second attempted murder charge filed against man

November 19, 2002|by JULIE E. GREENE

HAGERSTOWN - One of three men charged with a Nov. 3 attack in which the victim was found unconscious, naked and burned near the Antietam Street overpasses is now facing charges of attempted second-degree murder in that case and a prior case, Hagerstown City Police said Monday.

Wesley Morgan Armstrong, 47, no fixed address, was charged via arrest warrants with the attempted second-degree murders of Charles Edward Rappe and Brian Neil Thrift, police said. Armstrong was served with the warrants at the Washington County Detention Center last Friday.

Armstrong was being held at the detention center Monday night in lieu of $200,000 bond.

Last week, Armstrong and two others were in custody on second-degree assault charges in the Nov. 3 incident in which Rappe was found unconscious, naked and burned in a wooded gully between the overpasses at Burhans Boulevard and Walnut Street.


Lt. Rick Johnson said the Washington County state's attorney's office will ask to dismiss the original charge of second-degree assault in the Rappe case so charges could be refiled through the arrest warrant.

The arrest warrant for that case also charged Armstrong with first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, police said.

Police have said there apparently was an argument in the wooded area where Rappe, 37, no fixed address, was found, and it turned physical. Rappe was beaten, his clothes were stripped off and he was set on fire, police said. Then his clothes were set on fire.

Around 5 p.m. that Sunday, personnel on a passing train alerted police to the man's presence in the grass between the railroad tracks.

James Lee Betts, 32, no fixed address, and David James Kirkpatrick, 51, of the 1100 block of Hamilton Boulevard, also were each charged with one count of second-degree assault in connection with the incident, police said.

Betts and Kirkpatrick were each being held at the detention center on $60,000 bond Monday night.

Rappe was released from Washington County Hospital on Nov. 12.

Following Armstrong's arrest on Nov. 8, a previous case with similar circumstances was reopened.

On Sept. 3, at 6:05 p.m., police responded to an assault call at the old Kline Paving Co. in the 500 block of North Burhans Boulevard, police said.

Thrift was found with burns on his hands, stomach, back and groin area, police said.

That investigation had been suspended because it was possible Thrift could have received his injuries accidentally, police said.

After the investigation was reopened, police learned Thrift and Armstrong were camping at the old paving property when Thrift fell asleep.

Thrift awoke to find a man lighting paper on fire and throwing it on him, setting his clothes on fire, police said. Thrift batted out the fire, severely burning his hands, police said.

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