Major Richard "Rick" Fahlteich

Detective Richard Fahlteich rose to the rank of major. He retired in 2004, but answered the Police Commissioner's request to return to duty that year as commander of the Baltimore Police Department Homicide Unit. He retired in 2006, after 32 years with the department.


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Trinh Suspect Arrested 
DNA sample leads police to 27-year-old man 'not a stranger' to campus


By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Baltimore City Police announced on March 23 the arrest of a 27-year-old male Baltimore resident charged with the murder of Johns Hopkins undergraduate Linda Trinh. The capture of the suspect effectively ends a search that included two months of forensic laboratory investigations and hundreds of interviews by detectives.

University officials attended the news conference, held at Baltimore Police headquarters, where Maj. Richard Fahlteich announced the apprehension of Donta Maurice Allen, a non-Hopkins affiliate who was a "close friend" of one of Trinh's sorority sisters. According to Fahlteich, Allen was "not a stranger" to the Homewood campus, and a lot of students, including Trinh, were familiar with him.

"He was readily accepted in the community and had access to the building where Trinh and her fellow sorority sisters lived," he said.

Trinh, a 21-year-old senior biomedical engineering major and former president of her sorority, was found dead on Jan. 23 in her residence in the Charles Apartments, a privately owned building across Charles Street from the Homewood campus.

Allen has a criminal record that includes possession of a controlled and dangerous substance and malicious destruction of property. Police said that he was identified very early on in the investigation among a group of nonstudents who frequented the Charles Apartments. However, it was only last week that they received the results of the DNA tests that tied Allen to the crime.

"The evidence we have recovered clearly, categorically, and unequivocally says that Mr. Allen is our suspect," Fahlteich said.

Allen has been seen on video surveillance records entering and leaving the Charles Apartments, but police declined to say whether he was caught on video surveillance on the day Trinh was killed.

Police said that although Allen would have been an "unwelcome guest," they do not believe he broke into Trinh's apartment.

Fahlteich also said there was no "direct evidence" of a sexual assault in this case and that investigators do not know, or would not release, what Allen's motive may have been. The cause of death is said to be asphyxiation.

Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm opened the briefing by saying that the department takes every homicide very seriously and that all are tragic, but because of the special circumstances involved in this case, a news conference was deemed appropriate.

Trinh was a well-known and widely admired student, and her death led to an outpouring of support for her family and friends. A memorial service held for her on Feb. 2 drew nearly 1,200 members of the Johns Hopkins community.

President William R. Brody, who spoke at the news conference, thanked Commissioner Hamm and his officers for their aggressive pursuit of the case and the many man-hours they devoted.


"I want to say how especially grateful we are to every detective, every officer, every forensic investigator, and everyone who contributed in any way to the successful conclusion of this investigation," Brody said. "Not only as president but as a parent, I can tell you that the safety and security of our students are of paramount importance to us at Johns Hopkins. We have been working very hard—often in close cooperation with the community, the police, and the city—to enhance that safety and security. I pledge today that we will not let up in our dedication to that effort of making the community safe for all."

Allen was charged with first-degree murder. He was scheduled for a bail review on Friday.

On Thursday, Allen's defense attorney, Warren A. Brown, told The Baltimore Sun that his client informed police interrogators that he had forced his way into Trinh's apartment and hit her, but that he did not kill her. According to the article, which appeared on Friday, Allen's statements to detectives came in the hours after his Wednesday arrest.

Trinh's death marked the second time in less than a year that Johns Hopkins' undergraduate community and the university at large suffered such a tragic loss. The day after an early morning attack by an intruder in the off-campus building that his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, occupied, junior Christopher Elser passed away from knife wounds on April 18, 2004.

In response to the two deaths, President Brody enacted a 15-point security action plan in late January, a series of new initiatives intended to enhance the safety and security of students on the Homewood campus and in the neighboring community. Implementation of the plan is proceeding at a rapid pace. The first phase of the "smart camera" video surveillance system is expected to go live this week.

The police said they continue to believe there is no connection between the two student deaths. A $50,000 reward remains in effect for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect in the Elser case.

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