Apparent murder-suicide shocks normally quiet town
By ROBIN BROWN
Bear Bureau reporter
A man apparently murdered his wife and mother-in-law Sunday, then killed himself in a crime that rocked Marydel, a small town that straddles the Delaware-Maryland state line.
At 8:56 a.m., one of the women called 911, screaming in Spanish for help, police said.
"We were unable to make out exactly what she was saying at the time because of the language barrier," Maryland State Police Sgt. Thornnie Rouse said.
Maryland troopers, Caroline County sheriff's deputies, translators and personnel from Marydel Volunteer Fire Company rushed to the house in the 200 block of Main St., less than a block into Maryland.
The three family members were found dead - each of a single shot to the head from a 9 mm pistol. Police identified the shooter as Ernesto Bamaca, 37, and the victims as his estranged wife, Aeriela R. Aguilar, 22, and her mother, Sylvia Aguilar Morales, 41. All were from Mexico, police said.
Bamaca moved out of the house in December after the couple had domestic problems, police said. He was served that month with a criminal summons for an alleged assault, and the sheriff's department issued a protective order against him on Dec. 26.
Bamaca, whose occupation was not available Sunday, also was arrested last week in Delaware on a concealed-weapon charge, police said.
His father-in-law, whose name was not released, met police at the back door and, through an interpreter, told them what happened:
Bamaca came to the house before 9 a.m. and took the couple's two older children - girls believed to be 6 and 8 - out the back door and put them in his pickup truck. He went back into the house and allegedly shot his estranged wife in the hall. He kicked down a bedroom door and shot his mother-in-law, then himself, police said.
Bamaca, with the gun at his side, was found in the room with his mother-in-law.
Bamaca and his wife also had an infant son, who was one of several others in the house at the time of the shooting.
The baby and other residents were not hurt, said Bamaca's 18-year-old son, Minor Bamaca, who also lives there.
"Family is OK. ... Ninos OK," he said as clusters of relatives, friends and neighbors - many crying or weeping - waited outside the house or by an apartment building next door.
Police said the bodies would be taken to the Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore for autopsies.
Funeral information was incomplete Sunday night.
Marydel Fire Chief Buffy Madden said several families lived in the house, which is about 40 feet by 40 feet, with four rooms on the first floor and two in the attic.
"I can't remember us ever having any murders in town," said past fire company chief Al Lanie, who has 50 years of service.
The quiet old farm town was settled by an African-American and later known as Halltown for shoemaker William Hall, who moved there about 1850 after buying about 300 acres to develop. It now has about 70 homes and a few businesses.
The train quit running on the track that bisects the town decades ago and the pickle plant closed a few years back.
"Most everybody who lives here works out of town," Lanie said. "It's pretty quiet."
The town's quiet was last disturbed about two weeks ago, when a woman robbed the Peoples Bank of Maryland - the second building across Main Street from Bamaca's.
Neighbors said Bamaca began renting the house three to four years ago from a man who lives in Hartly.
"They seemed like awfully nice people," said Barbara Poulin-Wiest, whose house is across from Bamaca's. "This is a terrible tragedy."
Neighborhood children said the mother-in-law, who had a rose garden in front of the house, always was nice to them.
One young mother said: "She always said hello and gave candy to my kids."
Hispanic families, most from Mexico, began moving into Marydel about 10 years ago, mainly to work at chicken-processing plants nearby in both states.
"There's a really big population of Spanish-speaking people," fire chief Madden said. "It's about half or pretty close to being half."
A truck that picks up workers to go to the chicken plants stops regularly at Bamaca's house and the apartment house next door, neighbors said.
Since Bamaca moved to a house about a half-mile away on Lepore Road, neighbors - most of whom declined to give their names - also said they saw his blue Ford F150 truck there every Sunday morning to pick up the girls.
Children's-services workers, among more than two dozen officials at the scene, talked with the girls, who are staying with other relatives.
Father Chris LaBarge of nearby Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, where a weekly Mass is offered in Spanish, helped with translation and comforting relatives and neighbors at the fire hall.
There, the Marydel Volunteer Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary fed a big meal - including turkey, prime rib, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce - to about 40 grieving people.
Many wept as they ate.
Reach robin brown at 838-3189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.