By Van Smith
Published by City Paper, Dec. 10, 2010
Michael Paul Knight, 50, was last seen around 8 P.M. on Dec. 16, 2009, when he left his Woodlawn home driving a green 1991 Honda Accord after telling his family “he was going out to meet someone,” according to a Baltimore County Police missing persons flier. “Police and his family are concerned for his well-being, and do not know of any remarkable medical issues with Mr. Knight,” the flier continues.
If investigators are right about Knight’s fate, he was beaten, tied up, and murdered, and his body was then dismembered “with a power-type saw” and disposed of, according to Detective Carroll Bollinger of the Baltimore County Police homicide unit, who believes the alleged crime is related to a cross-country marijuana trafficking organization.
Bollinger’s suspicions about Knight’s case are contained in an affidavit for a search-and-seizure warrant filed in U.S. District Court on Dec. 9. The warrant was used in mid-November to collect evidence from a Rosedale apartment—especially its bathroom, which is believed to be the scene of the dismemberment—and a vehicle where he had allegedly been beaten prior to the murder. Knight’s body “has not been recovered,” Bollinger’s affidavit states, and the warrant was needed to help develop leads about its whereabouts.
At precisely whose hands Knight was murdered remains unclear, though Bollinger’s affidavit names two people—Jean Therese Brown and Carl Smith, who is also known as Mario Skelton Jr.—as present when Knight was beaten in a vehicle and taken to the apartment where he is believed to have met his death. Smith is no longer around to help solve the crime, because he “was murdered on April 26, 2010, in Tijuana, Mexico,” the affidavit states. Brown, meanwhile, recently pleaded guilty in federal court to bulk-cash smuggling and is due to be sentenced in February.
Bollinger’s affidavit says the alleged details about how Knight died were obtained from Brown and “others closely associated with the events.” Those others remain unnamed “due to the violent nature of the individuals involved in this investigation and the magnitude of the drug operation.”
Who killed Knight—or even if he was killed—and where his body might be remain undetermined, but Bollinger’s affidavit draws a clear picture of why he may have been killed. He was “holding as much as a million dollars” for Brown and Smith—money that “was being held for an upcoming drug transaction”—and “possibly as much as $250,000, was missing.” The missing money, the affidavit suggests, may have cost Knight his life.
Brown and Smith were participating in “a large scale marijuana smuggling and distribution operation,” the affidavit states, “which included the states of California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and Florida,” and used a “trucking company to transport the marijuana and money across the country.” Knight’s prior dealings with Brown include a Dec. 25, 2008, trip to deliver cash to Jamaica for Brown, Bollinger’s affidavit says. Knight and two others—including Brown’s co-defendant in the bulk-cash smuggling case, Debbie Ann Shipp—were stopped as they entered Jamaica that Christmas day, and $565,035 in U.S. currency was found on them.
City Paper’s attempts to contact Knight’s sister, who is named in the affidavit as the person who reported him missing last year, were unsuccessful.