Editor's note: This is the first of a six-part series on the problem of juvenile violence in Frederick County and possible solutions.
Frederick County was stunned in March when gunfire at a high school 3,000 miles away was blamed on a former Brunswick student.
When word got out that the 15-year-old accused with killing two of his Santee, Calif., classmates had grown up in Knoxville, Md., Frederick became ensnared in the media furor surrounding one of the nation's latest school shootings.
The arrest of Charles Andrew "Andy" Williams made parents and school officials countywide realize the frightening truth: That violence involving juveniles can happen anywhere even here.
But as shocking as the arrest of Andy Williams was, crime involving juveniles and young adults is nothing new to Frederick.
The county got a huge dose of reality when, during an 18-month period in the mid-1990s, three highly disturbing murder investigations put seven of its young people behind bars.
In one of those cases, a rifle blast claimed the life of a 30-year-old woman working alone at a convenience store. The two other victims were stabbed to death, a 26-year-old counselor at a psychiatric hospital and a 20-year-old man who was planning to join the U.S. Army.
"It is a coincidence that these crimes happened in a relatively brief period of time. But that just emphasizes the fact that the seriousness of juvenile crime has increased in the last 10 to 15 years," said State's Attorney Scott Rolle.
"It used to be that the great majority of juvenile crime involved cases of vandalism or incidents of graffiti. Now, although it's still not the norm, it's not unheard of to have juveniles convicted of manslaughter or murder," Mr. Rolle said.
In a look back at the crimes and subsequent prison sentences given to the young offenders from Frederick County during the past 10 years, it appears that the killing of an elderly man in 1992 was perhaps the first time that someone under 21 would be charged with murder. That case, which involved a 20-year-old defendant, foreshadowed the coming onslaught of juvenile crime.
Juveniles in Frederick actually began making the headlines for murder in the waning days of 1994.
Of the seven young people arrested and convicted in the three murders that occurred from December 1994 to June 1996, one inmate, Brian Wooldridge, agreed to be interviewed.
Two inmates wrote back to decline, one expressed interest but did not make the necessary arrangements, and the three others did not respond.
In crimes of violence, under state law, an inmate must serve half of his sentence before he is eligible to receive a parole hearing. And those sentenced to life with the possibility of parole must serve 15 years before parole is considered.
The following is a brief synopsis of some of the crimes the county's young people have committed in the past 10 years.
Feb. 10, 1992:
Christopher John Jarboe, 20, of Araby Church Road, was one of two deaf men charged by Frederick police in the murder of 80-year-old Robert A. Evans Jr. for money, guns and camping gear. The other defendant was 29.
Mr. Evans was stabbed twice in the neck and twice in the chest. His wrist was slashed and he was shot in the head with a .22-caliber rifle.
On July 30, 1993, Jarboe was sentenced to life with all but 35 years suspended, to be served at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup.
Dec. 20, 1994:
Catoctin High School student Clayton W. Faxon, 16, and Jeremiah D. Reynolds, 17, both of Sabillasville, were charged by Pennsylvania State Police in the shooting death of a 30-year-old convenience store clerk in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa.
Cash totaling $26 was taken from the register and the victim's purse. The juveniles also stole cigarettes from the store and took the clerk's car, which they later set on fire. She was shot in the mouth with a .30-.30 rifle.
On Oct. 4, 1995, Faxon was sentenced to life for the murder plus a minimum of 10 years in jail for the robbery. He is incarcerated in the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institute in Frackville.
Reynolds, who was educated at home, got a minimum of 20 years for his part in the murder and is jailed in another Pennsylvania institution.
Oct. 8, 1995:
Benjamin Scott Garris, 16, of College Avenue, Frederick, was charged in the stabbing death of a 26-year-old counselor at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital. He also set a halfway house on fire where he lived with other boys at the hospital.
Garris spent three weeks on the run until he was captured in Virginia Beach by a convenience store clerk who caught him stealing candy and cigarettes.
On July 15, 1996, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is jailed in the Maryland House of Corrections Annex in Jessup, the state's only maximum security prison.
June 17, 1996:
Four Frederick teens were charged in the murder of 20-year-old Adrian Pilkington, who was stabbed and tossed off a Brunswick bridge into the Potomac River 75 feet below.
Three days later, deputies with the Frederick County Sheriff's Office arrested Jason Jensen, 18, Jean Louis Nance, 19, Rachel Whitman, 16, and Brian Wooldridge, 16.
Jensen was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to murder, receiving two concurrent life sentences with the possibility of parole.
Nance, Whitman and Wooldridge were convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 13 years in prison. Nance, who is not a U.S. citizen, will be deported to the Ivory Coast after his release.
Jensen is in the maximum security prison in Jessup. Whitman is jailed at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, and Nance and Wooldridge are in different prisons in Hagerstown.
May 4, 2000:
The City of Frederick is shaken when three people are fatally gunned down in a week in areas near the city's public housing neighborhoods. A suspect arrested in one of the shootings was a juvenile, Melvin "Rock" Smith. He was 16 at the time he shot and killed Cedric Brinkley of Baltimore. Police said Smith shot Brinkley, who had moments earlier shot and killed Smith's cousin, Welmon Nash.
Originally charged with first-degree murder, on April 24 Smith was sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter. He was sent to the Patuxent Institution in Jessup.
March 5, 2001:
Former Knoxville resident Charles Andrew Williams is accused in the fatal shootings of two teen-agers at his high school in Santee, Calif. The 15-year-old told his friends here in the Brunswick area that the teens at his new school had been teasing him.
Charged with two counts of first-degree murder, a judge ruled Friday that Mr. Williams will be tried as an adult.
Police officers across the county shake their heads when considering how best to deal with juvenile crime.
Frederick Police Lt. Tom Chase said that he has seen so much during his 24 years on the force that "nothing shocks me any more."
In the early 1980s, a gang of young armed robbers, including a girl, committed nine holdups in the county and city, putting all of Frederick County on edge.
"It gets to the point that the suspect's age doesn't enter into how you investigate the case; you have to look at it almost from a clinical standpoint as to how you approach it," Lt. Chase said.
"You have to remember that the person committing the crime made a conscious decision to do what they did, so they must pay the consequences."
Detective Melissa Oland, one of the sheriff's deputies assigned to the Pilkington murder, said, "You think to yourself, 'How can this happen?' ... What struck me the most" during the Pilkington investigation "was the number of parents" during the interview process "who didn't know the names of their children's friends or where they would hang out.
"I found it so incredible that there were people coming into their homes that they knew nothing about," Detective Oland said.
"Parents need to be aware of where their children are; know what they're up to. These were young kids who had their whole lives ahead of them," she said.
"And Adrian was a young man who had his whole life planned."
Tuesday's story will explore the pressures on teen-agers.