A Baltimore County woman has been charged with hiring a hit man to kill her daughter-in-law in a case that Howard County police say might have been prompted by fear of losing contact with her grandson.
Emilia Domingo Raras, 63, of Parkville, was charged late Tuesday with solicitation to commit murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the Nov. 15, 1998 stabbing death of Sara J. Williamson Raras, 35, of Elkridge.
Raras allegedly offered $5,000 to Ardale Deridero Tickles, 19, of Baltimore, to kill her daughter-in-law, according to investigators.
Tickles was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center. Raras is being held at the Howard County Detention Center.
At the time of the slaying, Sara and Lorenzo Raras were engaged in a bitter custody dispute over their 1-year-old son. They had separated months earlier and Lorenzo Raras had custody of his son on weekends. Lorenzo Raras accused his wife of trying to "freeze" the child out of his life, according to an affidavit he gave during their 1998 divorce proceedings.
Police allege in charging documents that the boy "held great significance" to Emilia Raras, because he is the eldest son of her eldest son.
Sara Raras, a statistician at the National Security Agency, had expressed concern that her mother-in-law would help her husband "in removing the minor child from the U.S. to go to the Philippines," according to a divorce affidavit. The Raras family is from the Philippines.
Lorenzo Raras was initially the prime suspect in his wife's death, but his father told investigators he was at his parents' home at the time of the killing.
"Lorenzo Raras is not currently a suspect but has not been ruled out as one either," said Sgt. Morris Carroll, a Howard County police spokesman.
Lorenzo Raras has custody of his son.
On June 1, investigators discovered that Tickles, then being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center on unrelated robbery charges, had told another inmate about the killing.
They secretly recorded Tickles talking about the crime, including a comment that Tickles "was hired to kill this woman by an Oriental woman who was a nurse," according to charging documents.
Tickles and Emilia Raras worked together for seven months at a Baltimore nursing home.