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Third person found inside Baltimore vacant building with signs of trauma within four months

Your Tuesday Evening News Roundup (1/30/2024)
Your Tuesday Evening News Roundup (1/30/2024) 01:31

BALTIMORE -- Homicide detectives began investigating a grisly crime in Baltimore's Hollins Market neighborhood on Tuesday morning—the third of its kind within the past four months.

Officers on patrol in the southwestern part of the city were sent to a vacant building in the 1100 block of West Baltimore Street after someone reported finding an unresponsive man inside of it, according to authorities.

They noticed that the man had sustained traumatic injuries. He was pronounced dead by medical personnel, police said.

It was at least the third time in recent months that homicide detectives found themselves looking for evidence of a traumatic death inside a vacant building.

Earlier this month, on  Jan. 9, they found a man inside a vacant house in the 3600 block of Belair Road. That person was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to undergo an autopsy.

Nine days later, police announced that the person found inside the house had been identified as Quantae Arthur—who would have turned 33 on Christmas Day 2023.

It is unclear if Arthur even made it to his 33rd birthday, though.

He was reported missing in Baltimore County more than a month before his body was found.

Baltimore County Police Department spokesman Det. Trae Corbin confirmed to WJZ that Arthur had been reported as missing. Corbin said he was unsure of Arthur's living circumstances at the time of his disappearance.

Prior to that, on Oct. 2, 2023, detectives found themselves inside a vacant house in the 500 block of Payson Street looking for evidence of the cruel crime that left former Loyola men's basketball star Jamal Barney dead.

Former Loyola basketball star Jamal Barney found dead in vacant West Baltimore home 02:04

The 37-year-old man had been reported missing not long before his body was found in the house with signs of trauma. His ex-wife had posted a flyer on social media stating that nobody had seen or heard from him for nine days. 

Police said Barney was reported missing on October 1. 

Data shows Baltimore has just under 14,000 vacant and abandoned properties, and roughly 20,000 vacant lots.

These spots that span the city are blamed for blight, crime, and a factor in the deaths of three firefighters around this time of year in 2022.

Firefighters Lt. Paul Butrim, Lt. Kelsey Sadler, and paramedic Kenny Lacayo died after a vacant house partially collapsed on them on Jan. 24, 2022.

A fourth firefighter, John McMaster, was critically injured but able to recover from those injuries.  

The house was on fire at the time that it collapsed on the firefighters. It had previously been on fire and had structural issues, according to a 314-page report that laid out the issues leading to the death of the firefighters.

Baltimore council calls on state lawmakers to pass vacant homes tax 02:31

The fire led to an uproar over the city's vacant housing crisis and the resignation of Baltimore City Fire Department Chief Niles Ford.

City officials have been trying to reduce the number of the city's vacant houses through foreclosures and by auctioning them off.

In fact, earlier this week, the Baltimore City Council unanimously adopted a resolution to call on the Maryland General Assembly to pass—and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore to sign—a measure that would give city leaders the authority to set a special tax rate for vacant and abandoned properties.

Baltimore City Councilwoman Odette Ramos introduced the resolution, which she described as a "request for state action," during a regular council meeting at Baltimore City Hall. 

This is the fourth time state lawmakers have considered a variation of the measure, which aims to root out vacant and abandoned properties. 

If approved, the special tax rate on certain properties would be determined by the city council and the mayor. 

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