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.
Maj. Richard Fahlteich said the
evidence 'unequivocally' points to Allen.
PHOTO BY HIPS / WILL KIRK
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
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 had received the results of
DNA tests that tied Allen to the crime.
"The evidence we have recovered clearly, categorically
and unequivocally says that Mr. Allen is our suspect,"
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
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
The photograph of suspect Donta
Allen displayed at the press conference.
PHOTO BY HIPS / WILL KIRK
"I want to say how especially grateful we are to every
detective, every officer, every forensic investigator,
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 is 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 hisWednesday 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. Junior
Christopher Elser died from knife wounds on April 18, 2004,
the day after an early morning attack by an intruder in the
off-campus building occupied by his fraternity, Sigma Alpha
In response to the two deaths, President Brody in late
January enacted a 15-point security action plan, 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
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.