Tractor pin probable weapon in Mardela Springs homicide

 

A bearded William Blan Harcum III is taken into custody on Monday. (Todd Dudek Photo.)

A bearded William Blan Harcum III is taken into custody on Monday. (Todd Dudek Photo.)

When Trey Harcum was arrested amid a flurry of police cars Monday on his family’s farm, a scowl and squint twisted his bearded face.

His long hair blew over one eye and brushed the hood of a dark blue jacket. It was unzipped, exposing his bare stomach. He wore shorts and work boots. A splatter of blood, or a scratch, was visible on the right side of his chest.

The 31-year-old grandson of Blan Harcum Sr., patriarch of the iconic dairy farm in Mardela Springs, was handcuffed, charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree assault and second-degree assault, for the death of his uncle, Lee Harcum, that morning.

He’s now in jail, being held without bond.

The community, still reeling from the homicide, is shocked at the contents of court documents that state he had earlier been in a physical fight with his 62-year-uncle, who was found face down in a watermelon field. Trauma to his head was so severe he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Blood was still on the younger Harcum’s hands and clothing when police first approached him, according to court documents. He had told witnesses, who rushed to the site, it was “going to be either his uncle or him,” the charging documents say.

Lee Harcum was struck with what the documents called a pin from a tractor. The pin was bloody, witnesses on the farm said, and still in Harcum’s hands when they got to him. He slid it back into the tractor, court documents state, and it was later found by police.

His preliminary court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 27. On Tuesday this week, when the hearing date was announced, Judge L. Bruce Wade, in Wicomico County’s district court, refused to set bail.

William Blan Harcum III, known as Trey, has no criminal record. He was mannerly and industrious, said Bob Rothermel, an Ocean City entertainment promoter who employed him part time for about eight years.

“I’m as shocked as anybody else,” Rothermel said.

“Trey is a hard-working young man, always a pleasure. He was always very respectful. He called everybody Mr. and Mrs. It was ‘Yes, ma’am’ and ‘Yes, sir.’ He worked for my company off and on for certain shows. He was a hard-working farm boy and a good guy,” Rothermel said.

Certainly, the crime is a tragedy no one could have forecast for the senior Harcum, now in his early 90s, who wife, Louise, passed away in 2005.

Well known and admired, Harcum Sr. heads one of the county’s most prominent farming families and has long managed a successful agricultural operation. He has served as voice for the farmers to numerous elected leaders statewide.

Posted on his grandson’s Facebook page is a photograph of Harcum III, a thin, smiling young man, perched on the edge of a wagon of melons. There are exchanges with friends.  To one, Harcum said he was well, despite, “slings ‘an arrows ‘en all.” He said, sure, he’d pass along her greeting to his father, Blan Harcum Jr. That was two summers ago.

A video he posted in September 2013, about five seconds long, is of a vehicle, presumably driven by him, passing several police cars making a traffic stop. Harcum posted, raw and unedited: “3 Cars on ONe Guy in One Car is Tax-Funded Overkill, Facists!!!, after they saw me videoing them they scattered like Cockroaches; Good Work in the Sunshine.”

On Monday, his association with police was much different.

After his arrest, Greg Shipley of the Maryland State Police, issued a news release.

“About one-quarter of a mile back in the lane, troopers found the body of Lee Harcum lying in a watermelon field, with obvious trauma to his head. EMS personnel pronounced him dead at the scene. Troopers called for the Maryland State Police Homicide Unit and Wicomico Bureau of Investigation to respond. State Police crime scene technicians were also dispatched to process the scene,” the release stated.

The body of Lee Harcum, who lived on Westbrooke Drive in Salisbury, was sent to the state Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy and cause of death. Police continue to determine the motive.

The Maryland State Police Homicide Unit is leading the investigation, assisted by the State Police Criminal Enforcement Division and sheriff’s deputies assigned to the Wicomico Bureau of Investigation, Shipley said.

Meantime, a community grieves.

A phone call to the Harcum home on Beechnut Tree Farm went unanswered. The song “Don’t Fence Me In” played on the answering service.

A close friend and political ally of Blan Harcum Sr., Fannie Miles of Salisbury, said she hadn’t yet talked to him, but she was worried about his welfare, so much that she hadn’t been sleeping well. The last time she saw him, at a recent luncheon with former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, he was leaning on a cane, she said.

“Blan and Louise, they have a lot of friends,” she said.

“I’m sure that house is full of people who care about them so much.”

 

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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