A 40-year-old man, convicted of second-degree murder in 1972 and paroled from a Maryland prison three weeks ago, was charged yesterday with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of 12-year-old Donald Alan Henley of Clinton.
Charles M. Wantland, who was arrested by Prince George's County police at 7 a.m. yesterday, had been working as a carpentry instructor in a federal job training program funded and supervised by the county government.
The program, designed to teach building skills to unemployed county residents and to some state prisoners due to be paroled soon, had been operating on the grounds of the Berger Mansion, a dilapidated old county homestead less than a mile from the wooded area where the boy's body was found.
According to state assistant medical examiner Hormez Guard, the Henley youth was stabbed 14 times in the neck, chest and back with a large knife, possibly a kitchen knife.
"The wounds were large," Guard said. "It looks like there was sexual violence but we won't be able to say for sure until we've examined him further." The boy was found with his shirt off and "his clothes in disarray," said police.
Wantland was charged yesterday morning after police had questioned him for seven hours. Investigators had asked him to come in for questioning after a canvass of the neighborhood around the Henley home at 91111 Dixon Drive revealed that a neighborhood boy had seen a man fitting Wantland's description walking toward the Berger mansion with Donnie Henley.
That was at 4 p.m. Minutes before, Donnie Henley's friend Jeff Delcher, 10, had been walking home with Donnie, returning from a strip to a neighborhood ice cream store and the track at Surrattsville High School. When it began to rain, Jeff Delcher started to run, but Donnie - who, Jeff Delcher said, had pulled a muscle in his leg - fell behind.
When Jeff looked back for his friend as he turned off Patuxent Road and into Dixon Drive, Donnie Henley had disappeared.
"I didn't think anything of it," Jeff said yesterday. "I figures he had taken the shortcut through the church schoolyard back to the house."
Wantland, who was living at Beiger Mansion, where he was in charge of security, was convicted on Dec. 27, 1973, of second degree murder in the burning death of Ronald Huss, a drifter who allegedly got into a fight with Wantland in an abandoned Baltimore City warehouse after the two had been drinking.
Attorney Stanley S. Cohen, who defended Wantland on that charge, said he never considered Wantland really dangerous. "I thought it was a matter of two drunks fighting and it happened," he said last night. "I don't think he (Wantland) had a job or anything," Cohen said. He added that he believed Wantland was from the Baltimore area originally.
In sentencing Wantland, Baltimore Supreme Bench Judge Robert B. Watts ordered him sent to the Patuxent Institute for Defective Delinquents where state psychiatrists determined that he should join the institution's special program.
Wantland was formally committed to the Patuxent program in 1973. Under the detective delinquent program, criminals are committed to prison for an indefinite term and cannot be released until a psychiatrist certifies that they can safely return to society.
Last July the rules regarding defective delinquents were changed so they became eligible for parole on the schedule that would have applied under their original sentence. Wantland, originally sentenced to a 30-year-term, thus became eligible for parole this spring.
J. Brown Hardy, acting chief administrative officer at Patuxent said last night that Wantland had taken part in a work-release program since January.
He said Wantland had been part of the prison's alcoholics anonymous group and that he had a previous record of breaking and entering convictions, an arrest for disorderly conduct and a conviction for receiving stolen goods, all before the 1972 murder conviction.
Hardy said Brown was paroled "because he reacted well to the work-released program, never broke any rules and because I had heard no negative reports on him."
After being paroled on May 28, Wantland was hired almost immediately by Capital Building and Renewal Co., whose main office is at 4929 Americana Dr. in Annandale. According to Donald Weinberg, director of the Prince George's County personnel office, Wantladd was hired by Capital as a carpentry instructor.
Weinberg said the program at the Berger mansion was funded by the county's Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA) program and operated by Capital. "We gave them the grant ($93,000 for one year) and they ran the program," Weinberg said.
Weinberg had said earlier in the day that he had talked to Capital president Jack Jones, who said he was "very upset" about what had happened. "We're planning to continue with the program with Capital running it and I assume they are looking for a replacement for Wantland right now," Weinberg said.
Wantland had been living on the second floor of the two-story mansion since being hired. He and the assistant director of the program, Albert Ruffin, who also lived there, shared security responsibilities for the grounds.
Police said yesterday that they were not aware of the program operating in the Berger mansion until Sunday.
Neighbors of the Henleys also said they had no idea that the program had existed until Sunday and expressed anger that the police had not intensified their two-man search on Saturday night.
"We kept telling them that this boy would not run away over and over," said Barbara Puffenberger, who lives around the corner at 5400 Riga Rd. "They kept saying there wasn't sufficient proof that there was foul play. We had to go out and search ourselves Sunday. It was ridiculous."
Police spokesman Ross said he understand the frustrations of the neighborhood. "When these things happen we all feel so damn helpless there isn't much to say. It appears like maybe we didn't do enough. But our officers reacted to the information we had. God, we just didn't know much until Sunday.