A Somber Moment in West Baltimore

If you write a blog, you know that your blog host keeps tabs on your views or hits.  This statistical posting also includes which blog entries that you’ve written receive the most traffic.  It’s kind of mind-blowing, really, because the blog posts that get the most consistent attention, get that attention because people are searching those topics and get directed to your blog from whatever search engine they used.

I’ve found that my blogs about former Baltimore Colts, Norm Bulaich and Eugene ‘Big Daddy’ Lipscomb get a lot of traffic.  Also, my blog about great and gone-far-too-soon Baltimore band, MonkeySpank, seems to attract readers from all over and I just think that’s very cool.

But without a doubt, my blogs about David Simon’s ‘Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets’, get the most attention.  Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve written more than one or two blog entries about Homicide but it certainly seems that people are still reading the book, watching  ‘Homicide Life on the Streets’ on DVD and I guarantee you that folks who got into ‘The Wire’ are discovering Simon’s book after becoming enthralled by that amazing TV program.  The Wikipedia entry for HAYOTKS even has a link to one of my blogs, which I find amazing.

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The one case in the book that still gets the most attention is the murder of Latonya Kim Wallace.  It became what David Simon referred to as, “the spine of the book”.  Latonya was sexually assaulted, stabbed and left to die in an alley behind the houses at the corner of Gold St. and Etting St.  The case was confounding for detectives who were tasked with solving the mystery.  The lead detective was Tom Pellegrini and even with the full weight of the Baltimore Police Homicide Unit, they were unable to find Latonya’s killer.  Detective Pellegrini seemed to carry his frustration on not being able to solve this case of a murdered innocent through the years.  After retiring from the BPD he went on to investigate the murders of civilians found in mass graves after the War in the Balkans. 

The story of Latonya’s murder was so real-world dramatic, that it became the first case on ‘Homicide: Life on the Streets.  Aside from changing Latonya’s name to Adena Watson and calling Tom Pellegrini, Tim Bayliss, they touch on the elements of the case pretty well.  The TV show is good enough to show the detectives  bouncing ideas and scenarios off of each other.  In real life, the main suspect was called the ‘Fish Man’ because he was a fish monger and on TV they made him that oh so Baltimore Icon of an A-rabber.

I am writing this blog tonight because, I decided to grab lunch at the Hollins Market in Southwest Baltimore.  I totally go into a bit of a tourist mode as I discover and rediscover streets and neighborhoods that cause me to marvel.  All the tragedies and triumphs and I try to remember seeing these things in my travels around the city as a boy and a teen.  In short, I drive around a lot.  During my driving today I drove past Etting Street.  I’ve been on it before and I’ve also been on Gold Street before, but I’ve never gone to that infamous intersection where Gold&Etting meet.  Once I drove on Etting I knew that today I had to see it.  I had to know it.  I had to see where Latonya Kim Wallace was killed.Image

There it is.  That red house in the right of the photo is on the corner and it’s falling apart.  Standing there, one can look to the right and see the alley that, if my calculation is correct, is the alley that Latonya was found dead in.  To read the book and note the outline of specifics and events, these houses and the alley couldn’t fit better if it was movie set.  I could be wrong but I think that I am right.  Here is a photo of that alley and the houses.Image

 

It’s hard to see in the photo, but the houses have access ladders to the roofs.  One of the things speculated by detectives is that Latonya was transported by the killer or killers by using these; hence the lack of footprints or obvious evidence of moving the body to the alley.  One thing that was determined was that Latonya was not killed in the alley.

I stood there for a few moments, noting that there was no one around.  Alone. Just Latonya and me. 

About scottcarberry

I'm one nifty dude who is fascinated by his hometown; Baltimore, MD. It is persistently beautiful and ugly and I wish to live nowhere else ever again.
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8 Responses to A Somber Moment in West Baltimore

  1. Beautiful.

    Tragic and mournful and somber, as you said. But a beautiful gesture, Mr. Carberry, both in person and on the page.

    Thank you.

  2. Drewdy says:

    So sad there has been no movement on that case for sooo many years, I think about this case now and then and just feel sad about it. Very good post.

  3. Dana King says:

    I read Simon’s HOMICIDE every few years. It’s the best inside police narrative I’ve found. It, along with Connie Fletcher’s interview books, are the basis of all my cops.

    • I do the same thing. If you haven’t yet, read ‘The Corner’ by Simon and former Baltimore Homicide detective, Ed Burns, I recommend it. I must read some of these Connie Fletcher interviews.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I was an avid HLOTS fan, which led me to eventually buy David Simon’s HALOTKS. I’m finally finding time to read it. Knowing that they have never solved Latonya Kim Wallace’s murder does not make Simon’s description of the investigation any less gripping, but it does make me very sad as I read the detailed accounts of how hard Pelligrini and others tried to find her killer. And it let me to your blog, which is quite interesting as well.

    • Thanks, Elizabeth! I probably receive more readership and comments on my “Homicide” posts, than any others. What I find most intriguing is that someone added the photo that I posted of David Simon and a bunch of the Baltimore Homicide detectives, to theHLOTS/HAYOTKS Wikipedia page. Folks click on it and end up at my blog. For this Baltimore Boy, it’s thrilling and humbling.

  5. Dani says:

    LaTonya was my childhood friend and she actually was found in an alley in Reservoir Hill; Newington Avenue to be exact. I am still at a lost for words over her death.

    • Dani, I can’t imagine what it must have been like to lose a friend during childhood. I can only assume that there is a great sense of confusion and melancholy that must cling to you for years after an event such as that.

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