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Slain man was 'good honest person'

November 02, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - Children bounced a basketball Saturday afternoon in a concrete lot only yards from where a man's body was found early Friday near a pool of blood in the backyard of a house on James Street.

Police on Friday identified the body as 47-year-old Billy Lee Black and are treating the case as a homicide. Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. Paul Kifer said Friday that it appeared Black died of a stab wound.

Family members sitting on the porch of Black's Church Street home Saturday described him as a "good family man, a good honest person."

Black is survived by his wife, Andrea Black; two daughters, Danielle Black and Angie Smith; and one son, Justin Black, according to his obituary.

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"He was one of the best men anybody will ever know," said Bill Miller, Black's brother-in-law. "He was there for anybody. If you needed a favor, he would help you out."

Black was a "loving husband" who "loved his wife to death," Miller said.

Another family member called Black's death a "senseless crime."

Black was a member of the Teamsters Union and was employed by Asplundh Tree Experts for 30 years, according to his obituary

Black's home is just around the corner from where his body was found.

Neighbors were outside Saturday in the unseasonably warm weather.

Brenda Wilson called the incident "very unsettling."

She has lived on Norway Avenue, one street over from James Street, with her husband, Bob, for almost 20 years.

"It unnerves you," Bob Wilson said. "You've got to keep your doors locked just to be safe in your own house."

The Wilsons were taking their daughter to work about the time Black was killed, but they didn't see or hear anything unusual, they said.

A neighbor later told them what had happened.

While it's generally a good neighborhood, there was a beating several years ago in almost the same spot where Black's body was found, Brenda Wilson said. The victim survived that encounter, she said.

Courtney Jones has lived in the area about a year.

"Normally, it is quiet," she said as she held her friend's baby daughter and children ran around the neighborhood yelling and playing.

Rachael Mitchell, who lives on Church Street, read about the incident on The Herald-Mail's Web site Friday morning, she said. They saw police and neighbors outside, she said.

Mitchell has lived in the area for about 14 years and it usually is a quiet neighborhood, except for the children yelling, she said.

An autopsy on Black was performed Saturday, Kifer said Saturday afternoon.

Police on Saturday had no new information about the incident, he said.

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