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Washington County had five homicides in 2004

December 31, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - There were five homicides in Washington County this year, four of them within a month's time, compared with one homicide last year.

Charges have been filed in all but one of this year's homicides. One man was convicted for the March 14 murder of Jonathan M. Dennis, 19, of Waynesboro, Pa. at Washington Gardens Apartments in Hagerstown - the first homicide of 2004.

Azaniah Blankumsee, 26, whose last known address before his arrest was 658 N. Prospect St. in Hagerstown, was convicted on Dec. 3 in Washington County Circuit Court on charges of felony murder, robbery and related charges in Dennis' death.

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A date for Blankumsee's sentencing has not been set, according to court records.

Two of 2004's homicides - the Oct. 21 shooting death of Ali Aubae Robinson, 28, and the Nov. 15 shooting death of William Keith Grant, 46 - are under the Washington County Sheriff's Department's jurisdiction. Three of the homicide cases - the shooting death of Dennis; the beating of 3-year-old Madyson King, which resulted in murder charges on Nov. 12 following her death; and the beating death of Curtis Eugene Hill Sr., 46, on Nov. 3 - were investigated by the Hagerstown Police Department.

No charges have been filed in Robinson's death.

"We're still looking into stuff. There are still leads coming in," said Sheriff's Department Investigator Kenneth Barnhart.

Preliminary hearings have been held in Washington County District Court for all but one of those charged in the recent homicides.

The preliminary hearing for Larry W. Shriner, 21, who was charged in Hill's death, is set for Feb. 2, according to a District Court clerk.

Murder charges and related charges against his co-defendant, Justin Kyle Marshall, 17, who was charged as an adult, were forwarded to Circuit Court.

Murder charges and attempted murder charges against Steven Linn Barr, 41, of 808 Hamilton Blvd., in Hagerstown, who is charged in Grant's death, have been forwarded to Circuit Court.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Investigator Christopher Weaver said that Cathy Louise Myers, 44, who was critically wounded the morning Grant was killed, is in a rehabilitative hospital and is "progressing very well."

"We were able to go and talk to her. She was conscious and alert," Weaver said. He said police "gained vital information."

Hagerstown Police Department Detective Steven Hoover said that the homicides in the city this year are "entirely different" and unrelated.

There was one homicide in Washington County last year. Shirley P. Finfrock, 68, was found bludgeoned to death in her 22128 Holiday Drive home in the Smithsburg-area on Nov. 12, 2003.

On Aug. 28, 2004, Jack L. Hammersla Jr., 47, of no fixed address, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for Finfrock's slaying. A Circuit Court jury had convicted him on July 1 on charges of premeditated first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, burglary, theft, robbery and malicious destruction of property.

There were three homicides in Washington County in 2002, three in 2001, six in 2000 and four in 1999, according to published reports.

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