BERLIN — Three area residents were arrested on burglary and theft charges last week after allegedly breaking into a residence that had been involved in a fire a week earlier.
Around 2:15 a.m. last Friday, Berlin Police were dispatched to a reported burglary in progress at a residence on Bay Street. Early last Friday morning, area residents observed a suspect enter the apartment by force, remove a large-screen television and place it into a vehicle that fled the scene.
Berlin Police obtained a description of the vehicle and it was located a short time later and a traffic stop was initiated. A suspect located in the vehicle was identified by a witness, who was brought to the scene of the traffic stop. In addition, two other suspects in the vehicle who had entered the apartment were arrested for their roles in the burglary.
The arrested suspects included John Emery Miller of Salisbury; Richelle Blair Peterman of Hebron; and Robert Alan Nickerson III of Salisbury. Miller is employed by a local contractor and was working on the restoration of the apartments damaged by the April 3 fire and had been previously working on the premises before the burglary.
Each was charged with third-degree burglary, fourth-degree residence burglary, theft less than $1,000, and malicious destruction of property less than $1,000. The suspects were taken before a District Court Commissioner and each was ordered to be held on a $5,000 bond.
Hit-And-Run Leads To Arrest
OCEAN CITY — An Ocean City woman was arrested on drunk-driving charges this week after allegedly hitting a boat on dry land in northern Worcester County and leaving the scene.
Early Tuesday morning, Maryland State Police received a call regarding a vehicle that had struck a boat parked on the side of the road on Madison Ave. in northern Worcester County. The caller told police the driver, later identified as Caitlyn Marie O’Neill, 24, of Ocean City, had struck the parked boat with her vehicle. O’Neill than allegedly left the scene and traveled to her own residence, which was in close proximity to the location of the accident.
Through the investigation, it was determined O’Neill was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol and she was subsequently arrested. She was taken to the MSP Berlin barrack where she submitted to an intoximeter test, yielding a result of .12, higher than the .08 legal limit.
Jail For Sex Assault
SNOW HILL — A West Virginia man, arrested last June on rape and other charges for sexually assaulting a passed-out juvenile on the grass in front of a downtown Ocean City residence, was sentenced to a year in jail this week.
Last June 24, Ocean City Police responded to the area of Lark Lane for a reported passed-out individual, but the report was then changed to a possible rape involving a 15-year-old girl. Witnesses on the scene gave a description of the alleged suspect, later identified as Joseph Fernandez, 19, of Martinsburg, W.Va. Fernandez was located a short time later in the area of 26th Street and began making statements to OCPD detectives, including that he was sorry and that the girl told him she was over 21. At that point, Fernandez also told police he had no idea the victim was under 18 and that he did have sex with her because she said she was 18.
Detectives then met with the victim’s sister, who told police she had observed Fernandez assaulting her. The victim’s sister told police the victim was extremely intoxicated and had been unconscious and unresponsive just prior to the alleged sexual assault. Other witnesses in the area corroborated the sister’s version of the events leading up to the alleged assault.
The victim was transported to AGH for a rape kit, but because of her level of intoxication, the test could not be performed immediately. According to police reports, the hospital reported the victim’s blood-alcohol level at .21. Meanwhile, Fernandez was taken into custody and questioned by OCPD detectives. At that point, Fernandez admitted to having sexual intercourse with the juvenile victim.
When asked about the victim’s level of intoxication, Fernandez told police the victim was under the influence and was “going unconscious” and that he was helping her.
As the interview went on, Fernandez then told police he did not know how he ended up having sex with the victim and later actually said he did not remember it. Based on observations, witness statements and Fernandez’s own statements, he was charged with second-degree rape and second-degree assault. In February, Fernandez pleaded guilty to a third-degree sex offense. Back in court this week, he was sentenced to two years in jail, one of which was suspended. He was also placed on probation for two years upon his release.
Traffic Stop Nets Pot Bust
BERLIN — A Baltimore man was arrested on marijuana possession charges last week after a routine traffic stop on Route 50.
Around 1:25 p.m. last Friday, a Maryland State Police trooper stopped a vehicle in the area of Route 50 and Old Ocean City Rd. for a traffic violation. Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer detected a strong odor of marijuana. A subsequent search of the vehicle turned up roughly 28 grams of marijuana.
The driver, identified as Randolph Eugene Watson, Jr., 19, of Baltimore, was arrested and charged with marijuana. He was taken before a District Court Commissioner and was released on his own recognizance.
10 Days For Axe Assault
WEST OCEAN CITY — A local man was arrested in October after attempting to break down a door at a West Ocean City hotel with an axe pleaded guilty last week to second-degree assault and was sentenced to one year, all but 10 days of which were then suspended.
Around 1:15 a.m. last Oct. 12, Worcester County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the Mast Hotel on Harbor Rd. in West Ocean City for a reported burglary in progress. Deputies were informed a male suspect was beating down a door at the hotel with an axe.
When deputies arrived on the scene, they discovered a hole in the exterior door of one of the apartments. The investigation revealed a resident of the hotel, identified as James Bennis, 49, of West Ocean City, allegedly used a heavy steel tool to break down the door of another resident of the hotel.
Bennis was located a short time later and was taken into custody without incident. He has been charged with first-, third- and fourth-degree burglary along with reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct. Last week, Bennis pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to one year in jail, all but 10 days of which were then suspended. He was also placed on probation for two years upon his release and was fined $500.
Fine For Destruction
OCEAN CITY — The second of two Washington, D.C. residents arrested last fall on malicious destruction of property charges after a Halloween graffiti spree pleaded guilty last week and was fined $500.
Last Oct. 31, Ocean City Police observed multiple acts of vandalism to city property in the area of 2nd Street and the Boardwalk. A fire hydrant, dumpsters and a railing had been marked using spray paint. Through the investigation, OCPD officers were able to identify two suspects, William Placek, 23, of Laurel, Md., and Poppy Walker, 25, of Washington, D.C. OCPD officers were also able to determine the two suspects were still in Ocean City.
Placek and Walker were located a short time later in the area of 112th Street and Coastal Highway after officers located a vehicle registered to Placek. The officers located empty spray paint cans in the vehicle and placed Placek and Walker under arrest. Also found in the vehicle was a knife.
In addition, OCPD officers were able to determine the Placek and Walker were responsible for three additional markings throughout Ocean City previously reported to police. While in custody at the Ocean City Public Safety Building, Placek destroyed a sprinkler head in his jail cell.
The OCPD charged Placek with six counts of malicious destruction of property, malicious destruction scheme and concealing a deadly weapon. Walker was charged with one count of malicious destruction of property.
Last week, Walker pleaded guilty and was fined $500. Earlier this year, Placek also pleaded guilty to malicious destruction of property and was sentenced to 18 months, all of which was suspended. He was fined $1,000 and placed on probation for three years. He was also forced to pay $920 in restitution.
BISHOPVILLE — Maryland State Police troopers last week arrested a fugitive wanted in Delaware on several serious charges at his residence in Bishopville.
Around 7:20 a.m. last Friday, MSP troopers arrested Matthew L. Curtis, 34, at his residence in Bishopville in northern Worcester County. Curtis was wanted in Delaware on felony charges including attempted first-degree robbery, possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, aggravated menacing and other charges. Curtis was arrested without incident and is being held at the Worcester County Detention Center without bond while awaiting extradition proceedings.
SALISBURY — Salisbury Police this week continue to investigate the circumstances of a local man recovered from the Wicomico River on Sunday night.
Around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Salisbury Police responded to the Wicomico River in the area of Riverside Drive to investigate a reported drowning. Officers learned a Good Samaritan had pulled the victim from the water and attempted life-saving efforts. Salisbury EMS arrived and transported the victim, later identified as Lamar Byron Sheppard, 24, of Salisbury, to PRMC where he was pronounced deceased.
The investigation determined Sheppard entered the water near the southwest corner of Riverside Drive and was unable to swim. Detectives have interviewed a number of witnesses to the incident and are attempting to locate others.
Detectives have reviewed video surveillance from a nearby location which captured significant portions of the incident. It reportedly shows the deceased man jumping into the water and being chased. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on the victim on Tuesday and the cause and manner of death are pending. Preliminary results indicated no obvious trauma to the victim.
In an effort to maintain investigative integrity and sensitivity to the victim’s family, the Salisbury Police Department is attempting to interview all potential witnesses and confer with relatives prior to releasing any additional information about the incident. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Salisbury Police at 410-548-3165, or Crime Solvers at 410-548-1776.