ANNAPOLIS, JULY 11 -- Minutes after Robert Austin Bell, 57, was stabbed to death in his kitchen Monday night, the three men who are now suspects in his death went to an Anne Arundel County liquor store and spent money stolen from him, police said today.
"I think they were pretty smoked up or drunk to begin with and wanted to stay that way," said Lt. William Tankersley, head of the county's Crimes Against Persons section.
According to court documents and police, the suspects went to Bell's Annapolis home to steal a large plastic jar of quarters from his bedroom with the idea of using the money to buy guns. The jar probably contained $75 or less in change, police said.
Bell, a freelance repairman, allegedly was stabbed repeatedly in the upper torso by two of the suspects, police said. One of the alleged attackers, Michael David Swartz, telephoned investigators about the crime about 1 1/2 hours after it occurred Monday, and was arrested at an Annapolis area motel, his clothes stained with blood, Tankersley said.
Swartz, 24, of Annapolis, is the brother of 23-year-old Larry Swartz, who was convicted in 1985 of killing their adoptive parents. Michael Swartz has been charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon. Arrest warrants charge the two other suspects with the same offenses.
The man who allegedly drove the getaway car in the Bell case and made the liquor store purchase, Henry Louis Stettler IV, 27, of Annapolis, is expected to surrender to authorities, police said. Stettler, the son of Maryland's deputy state treasurer, called investigators late Tuesday afternoon and said he would turn himself in within 24 hours, according to Tankersley.
"He wouldn't tell us where he was at. It was obvious he knew we were looking for him and he was pretty upset . . . . If he was really just the driver, I think it would certainly behoove him to come forward," Tankersley said.
Police are searching for the third suspect, Ronald Lamar Scoates, 30, a convicted murderer. According to Florida prison officials, Scoates pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1981 after fatally stabbing a Daytona Beach man during an attempted robbery.
Scoates was sentenced to 35 years in prison but was paroled in January 1987, the officials said. He served another four months after a parole violation before being released again in April.
According to court documents, Scoates was a close friend of Bell's and had lived with the slain man until Bell evicted him about a month ago. Swartz has told police that Scoates had said before the robbery attempt that he would kill Bell if he resisted, the documents state.
The brutal slaying of Michael Swartz's parents became the subject of a book written by Leslie Walker, an editor at the Baltimore Evening Sun, who said today that Michael Swartz had planned to assist her on a publicity tour coinciding with the book's release in paperback this week.