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Cassidy Jensen

Baltimore Sun

January 19, 2024

On Nov. 3, a woman told Baltimore Police that her husband had held her hostage and robbed her. The woman, who uses a wheelchair, reported to police that he forced her to send him money, pointed a pocketknife at her and refused to let her leave a vehicle a few days before.

Although police obtained a warrant for the man the day she made her report, they didn’t arrest him until Nov. 15, five days after Baltimore County Police say he shot 81-year-old Jaward Hannah in the head. Last week, county police arrested the man on first-degree murder and firearms charges.

The Baltimore Sun is not identifying the man to protect the identity of the woman he allegedly abused.

The city arrest warrant on charges of kidnapping, armed robbery, assault, false imprisonment and other offenses was approved Nov. 3 and assigned to the domestic squad of Baltimore Police’s Warrant Apprehension Task Force. The task force has different squads for murder, shooting and robbery/felony.

Police spokesperson Lindsey Eldridge said in an email Thursday to The Baltimore Sun that the warrant task force “initiated a background investigation and surveillance was conducted in an attempt to locate the suspect.” Eldridge did not explain why that process took 12 days or what the surveillance involved.

Randallstown NAACP President Ryan Coleman said the service of arrest warrants represent a gap in the regional justice system and leaders could make people safer by prioritizing warrants or increasing resources to units that serve them.

“People are dying. This is not hyperbole,” Coleman said. “If this individual was captured, Mr. Hannah would not be dead.”

Baltimore Police and Baltimore County Police have been criticized in the past for delays in serving warrants. In 2022, city and county police failed to execute a no-knock warrant for an 18-year-old wanted for armed robbery in Baltimore County until the day after he shot and killed James Blue III. A jury found the teen, Sahiou Kargbo, guilty Feb. 6 of second-degree murder.

Officials at the time defended the decision to wait five days to serve the warrant, saying it did not meet criteria for calling in SWAT on overtime. Union leaders said the incident demonstrated that the police departments were too focused on reducing officer overtime, while politicians pointed to the delay as the result of a backlog of warrants.

Eldridge said in her email that the Warrant Apprehension Task Force had 72 arrest warrants that have not been served as of Thursday, dating back to Jan. 18 last year.

The task force was responsible for serving the warrant in the kidnapping case. While SWAT can be requested, that happens “usually after [the warrant task force] attempts to serve the warrant and the situation escalates to a barricade situation,” she wrote in the email.

Last year, Levi Feldman was charged with murder in the July 7 shooting of his ex-girlfriend Lakisha Wheeler near Pikesville High School in another case involving an open warrant.

On June 24, Feldman violated a final protective order Wheeler had against him, according to charging documents. Investigators wrote that after Feldman became jealous of Wheeler’s new relationship, he tried to come inside her home and threatened to kill her and her new boyfriend. The arrest warrant wasn’t executed until after Wheeler’s killing, weeks later. Feldman’s trial is set for July 15 in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

In the more recent case, the woman told Baltimore Police that her husband drove her to a doctor’s appointment on Oct. 30 and then to apply for a new apartment. However, when they arrived at the Baltimore senior living apartments, he refused to get the wheelchair that his disabled wife needed to leave the vehicle.

Instead, an employee came to the vehicle to get the apartment application, charging documents said, and the man spent the next several hours driving the woman to ATMs in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County while demanding money.

When she tried to call 911, he forced her to hang up. At one point, he pointed a closed pocket knife at her, before she grabbed it and threw it into the vehicle’s back. Finally, she sent him $900 via CashApp “to be released by him,” police wrote in charging documents, and he dropped her off at her friend’s house in Lochearn.

A week after the woman talked to police, her friend Jaward Hannah was found handcuffed and lying in a pool of blood in the Lochearn home at about 7 a.m.  Nov. 10.

His wallet was missing and his pockets were turned out, county police wrote in charging documents. An autopsy determined he died from a gunshot to the head.

The woman told police she last saw Hannah on the afternoon of Nov. 9 when he had left for work. She told police she believed her husband was responsible, and a “confidential source” told investigators that the man had told the source “that he was going to his wife’s friend’s house to kill the man because he had messed up their relationship,” according to charging documents.

The source told police that the man had a gun, handcuffs and a police badge, according to charging documents.

When Baltimore County investigators searched the man’s phone, they found photos of a .22 caliber handgun, a weapon consistent with the bullet recovered from Hannah’s body, and of the man wearing a police vest. Baltimore County Police spokesperson Trae Corbin said in an email that the man was not a member of law enforcement.

A prior conviction for first and second degree assault meant he was not legally allowed to possess a handgun, police wrote in charging documents.

County police interviewed the man Dec. 27, when he admitted to being outside the Lochearn home early Nov. 10 but denied involvement in Hannah’s death. Police arrested him Jan. 11 and he is being held without bond at Baltimore County Detention Center.

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