The 911 call came from a model home in suburban Maryland.
The first sound: heavy breathing by someone in distress.
The 911 operator Wednesday asked what was wrong. No answer. Then came a voice, off in the background: “Where is the money? Who are you talking to?”
The chilling words, recounted in arrest records made public Friday, launched a paramedic and police response in Anne Arundel County that led to the discovery of a man shot to death in the home and, ultimately, police say, to the person accused of killing him.
The victim Steven B. Wilson, 33, worked in the model home and helped sell new houses. He is survived by a wife and two daughters.
The suspect, Dillon Augustyniak, 18, was charged Friday with first-degree murder, armed robbery, theft and use of a firearm in a crime of violence.
“Robbery was the motive,” said Anne Arundel Police Chief Timothy J. Altomare. “I think impulse met opportunity in this instance.” Augustyniak stole Wilson’s cellphone and laptop computer, according to court records.
Wilson lived in Annapolis, police say. His family and friends called him outgoing and devoted to his family.
“He enjoyed meeting new people every day,” said Leland Sampson, a brother-in-law. “He liked the joy people see when they buy their first home. He liked to put a smile on people’s faces.”
Court records show that Augustyniak lives about half a mile from the model home. Details of how he entered the home were not clear in the court filings, which also did not directly say who placed the 911 call.
But the times cited in the records suggest that Wilson placed the call after being shot. After the emergency operator heard the voice in the background, according to the records, the operator heard what sounded like the phone being picked up and moved before the call was disconnected.
Detectives later reviewed surveillance video that showed the suspect carrying a long gun, according to court records.
Detectives spoke with multiple people, the filings state, and were told by at least two that the suspect had given Wilson’s cellphone to another person.
“Witness statements also revealed that immediately after the homicide, the above defendant was attempting to sell a firearm, which is the same caliber that was used to commit the homicide,” police wrote in a charging document.
On Thursday, investigators searched Augustyniak’s residence and found a gun “consistent” with the type of weapon used in the killing. “The recovered firearm also shares the same physical characteristics of the firearm that video surveillance captured the suspect holding,” police wrote.
Investigators were able to find the cellphone and laptop, police said.
They took Augustyniak into custody early Friday, just after midnight, police said, when Anne Arundel County’s fugitive apprehension team, with help from Baltimore police, found him in Baltimore.
Online court filings Friday did not list an attorney for Augustyniak.
A family statement Friday described Wilson as a “loving husband, father, son, brother and friend.”
The statement said members of Wilson’s family were “incredibly grateful” for the efforts of investigators who “worked nonstop” to make an arrest in Wilson’s death.
The statement went on: “The outpouring of love and support from friends and total strangers has been overwhelming. Hundreds of people who knew Steve have offered comfort and solace during this difficult time.”
Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said on Friday that he was proud the police were able to use tips from the community to make an arrest quickly in the case, which occurred in what he said has been a violent year in the county.
Six homicides remain open, police said Friday, in a year of homicides including the fatal shooting of five people in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis.
“It’s terrible in our county when any murders take place,” Pittman said. “Gun violence this year has really shaken Anne Arundel County.”
Altomare, the police chief, said that real estate agents, like others in the community, should be vigilant about their safety but that there is “no indication that there’s a particular threat” to those in the real estate business.
“What brought this case home in 31 hours was involvement from the community, was involvement from multiple people giving us pieces of the puzzle that let us do what we did . . . and get a suspect in custody and put a case together,” Altomare said.
“We have no indication that other model homes, real estate offices, et cetera, are going to be targeted,” Altomare said.
Robert Johnston, chief executive of the Anne Arundel County Association of Realtors, said Wilson worked as a builder’s representative and helped to sell new homes in the development in Hanover.
Johnston said it was not clear to him why a robber would target anyone in a model home. There is no cash inside, and mostly the home holds only furniture. Perhaps the suspect thought that only one person would be inside, Johnston said, and that he could rob that person without being seen.
“I think this is just one of those random situations,” Johnston said.
He said some real estate agents do work in model homes to sell properties.
His group’s board of directors met Friday to discuss possible safety measures. One idea: using an available phone app that can be activated when someone arrives, or when an appointment begins, which acts as countdown clock for a set period. If no ‘all clear’ button is pushed, the app automatically calls 911 or someone else for help, Johnston said.
Jennifer Jenkins and Justin Wm. Moyer contributed to this report.