The hit-and-run crash that took the life of U.S. Marine Cpl. William Kyle Ferrell last month has so far remained unsolved. Ferrell was killed on the evening of Sept. 29 while assisting another motorist on U.S. 15 north of Frederick.
The frustration surrounding this unsolved crime, however, may result in positive action that could help local police agencies in future investigations. As reported by The Frederick News-Post’s Jeremy Arias in Sunday’s edition, the Ferrell case has generated new interest in crime-solving organizations that tap into the public as a resource for leads in an investigation and offer rewards for actionable information.
Crime Stoppers is perhaps the best-known of these organizations. Local Crime Stoppers groups can be found all around the nation, including here in Maryland. Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland’s website describes itself as ”a volunteer organization actively supporting law enforcement agencies to solve crime in our community. Established locally in 1981, it is a part of an international network of crime fighting organizations. Our program encompasses Baltimore City, Annapolis City, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard, and Queen Anne’s Counties, home to more than two million people.”
With few leads to work with in the Ferrell case, the commander of the Maryland State Police Frederick barracks, Lt. Wayne Wachsmuth, contacted Metro Crime Stoppers to see if they might be of assistance. A visit to the MCS website answers that question, as its home page currently features a large photo of Ferrell and a link to important information regarding the crash, including the time it occurred, the vehicles involved, etc.
It also adds $2,000 to the $1,000 reward that had already been posted by a private donor.
As reported in the story, Frederick County once had a Crime Stoppers group, which many readers may remember. Over the years, it slowly fell into disuse. We hope that a new Crime Stoppers organization can take its place. Both acting Capt. Clark Pennington and former Deputy Chief Kevin Grubb of the Frederick Police Department are keen on the idea.
Like most of its counterparts, Metro Crime Stoppers offers a base reward — up to $2,000 — for usable information. Private donations help maintain the organization’s escrow account so that it can continue to offer rewards for information. Members of the public who provide information remain anonymous. Crime Stoppers groups are especially valuable because they are set up specifically to disburse rewards and collect and handle donations — financial and bookkeeping tasks that are more challenging for individuals or police agencies to deal with.
Having an active Crime Stoppers group operating in Frederick County could be of great service to local police agencies and contribute to public safety. It could also encourage average citizens to be more aware and observant of what’s happening around them. The eyes and ears of the public are powerful resources in solving crimes. This is especially true today, when many people have cellphone cameras that can capture critical information such as a person’s identity, the description or license number of a vehicle, or the exact time or place a crime was committed.
We hope that Frederick County will again have a Crime Stoppers capability, and we hope it’s soon. If a group cannot be established specifically for Frederick County, perhaps it can forge a relationship with, or even become part of, Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland.
In the meantime, police still need help in solving the hit-and-run that killed Cpl. Ferrell. Anyone with a potentially helpful tip should contact the Maryland State Police Frederick barrack at 301-600-4151 or, thanks to MCS, go to its website at metrocrimestoppers.org for instructions on how to report your information.