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Jail investigates bizarre package of photos

| Saturday, Feb. 17, 2001, 12:00 p.m.

A package of photographs mailed to Richard S. Baumhammers by his father constitutes a violation of Allegheny County Jail policy but not a criminal act, county police Superintendent Kenneth Fulton said Friday.

'The investigation is still ongoing, but we feel pretty sure there is no escape attempt at work here,' Fulton said.

Baumhammers, 35, is in the jail awaiting trial on five counts of criminal homicide and 20 other charges filed after a two-county shooting spree April 28 that killed five people and left a sixth victim paralyzed.

Police said Baumhammers, a suspended attorney who lived with his parents at their Mt. Lebanon home at the time of the shootings, targeted religious and racial minorities in the attacks.

Jail officials this week intercepted a package, addressed to Baumhammers and containing photos of the outside of the jail, and turned it over to county police Wednesday, Fulton said.

The parcel included three photos depicting various angles of the lower levels of the jail, the Pittsburgh Municipal Court building connected to the jail and the parking lot outside, the superintendent said.

Fulton said the jail has a written policy that prohibits anyone from sending pictures of the outside of the facility to inmates.

Detectives this week spoke with the suspect's father, Dr. Andrejs Baumhammers, a dentist, and confirmed that he mailed the photos, Fulton said. 'At this point we don't know exactly why he sent them.'

Jail Warden Calvin Lightfoot and William Difenderfer, attorney for the Baumhammers family, did not return phone calls seeking comment yesterday.

Although mailing the package violated policy, Baumhammers' father likely will not face any criminal charges, Fulton said.

'His parents have been through a lot already. We're here to enforce the law and not compound the tragedy of this matter.'

Fulton said the photos will remain in the hands of police until the investigation is complete.

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning will conduct a test of jurors on Tuesday and Wednesday to see if they can impartially consider the case against Baumhammers, whose trial is scheduled to start April 9.

The test will determine whether a jury can be picked from county residents or if the trial will have to be moved outside the area.

David Conti can be reached at dconti@tribweb.com or (412) 441-0976.

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