Death of man found naked in Maryland woods ruled homicide
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — A man whose naked body was found on a forest logging road in the western Maryland mountains was a homicide victim, killed by cuts to his neck, Maryland State Police said Thursday in a statement that raised questions about his girlfriend’s story that they fell off a cliff.
Police spokesman Greg Shipley wouldn’t say if investigators have a suspect in the Jan. 4 death of Alexander Stevens, 24, of Frostburg. He said no charges have been filed and no arrests have been made, but investigators don’t believe there is a public safety threat.
Shipley refused to say if investigators have recovered a weapon, or if Stevens’ body bore any indication of a fall from the 20-to-30-foot High Rock overlook in the Savage River State Forest.
“The investigation is ongoing and we continue to keep the state’s attorney informed of the progress of the investigation and work with her office in the ongoing investigation,” Shipley said
Garrett County State’s Attorney Lisa Thayer Welch declined to discuss the case.
A 20-year-old woman who said she was Stevens’ girlfriend told authorities they had hiked to High Rock from a roadside trailhead on the night of Jan. 3 and fallen from the cliff, according to transcripts of Garrett County emergency communications obtained by The Associated Press. The woman told authorities she thought Stevens was dead, but that she couldn’t remember anything else.
The woman said she walked out of the woods in the morning after having been lost all night, entered a home and used the homeowner’s phone to call 911. Emergency responders found her there on a sofa, naked under a blanket, conscious but hypothermic and bleeding from “a serious hemorrhage.” She told a dispatcher her back hurt.
The Associated Press is not identifying the woman because she has not been named as a suspect.
Stevens’ father, Jay Stevens, had called 911 hours earlier to report that one of Alex’s friends had gone looking for the couple shortly after midnight and found both of their cars at a church near the trailhead. Jay Stevens said the friend found Alex’s car running, and the girlfriend’s car keys atop High Rock, along with Alex’s boots and glasses, and a bag of their clothes.
Jay Stevens told the dispatcher his son had been in a “strange state” for about a year, but that he didn’t consider him suicidal, according to the transcript.
Alex Stevens had recently attended Frostburg State University, majoring in engineering. Acquaintances including his high-school cross-country coach, Norm Derosa, and Eagle Scout mentor Jerry Zembower described him as an intelligent, upbeat, well-organized young man who loved the outdoors.
Stevens had returned home to Frostburg after he was forced out of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 2014 following a sexual-assault investigation. A female cadet said he had entered her barracks room while she was sleeping, reached under a blanket and touched her thigh. Stevens maintained he was drunk and mistook the room for his girlfriend’s.