February 18, 2013 -- A Baltimore City Circuit Court jury convicted Eugene Emmett Bates for murdering a man in a vacant house, burning his body in attempt to destroy any evidence, and stealing his vehicle.
While extinguishing a house fire in the unit block of South Monroe Street on April 27, 2011, firefighters discovered the remains of a male body, bound and wrapped in debris, burning in the basement and alerted the police. The victim was identified as 49-year-old Elmore Rembert, and his death was ruled a homicide by asphyxiation.
When Rembert's remains were identified, the homicide detective assigned to the investigation learned that Rembert's wife had reported her husband missing. Rembert left their home on April 23, 2011, in his silver-gray pickup truck and never returned, she explained to authorities.
On May 11, 2011, a patrol officer spotted a silver-gray pickup traveling with a headlight out in the 1100 Edmonson Avenue and conducted a traffic stop to issue a repair order. As the officer approached the vehicle, he saw the driver rummaging through the car. Appearing nervous, the driver was unable to produce either a license or registration for the vehicle. When asked for his name, the driver identified himself only as "Emmett." Suspicious, the officer asked the driver to sit down on the curb and called for backup. When the support unit arrived, the man jumped up, losing his baseball hat in the process, and fled the scene on foot, ultimately escaping pursuing officers. The truck and baseball cap were submitted as evidence.
When investigators developed Eugene Emmett Bates as a potential suspect, they interviewed the patrol officer who stopped the driver known only as Emmett. The officer identified Bates in a photo array as the person who had fled Rembert's stolen truck and dropped the hat. DNA collected from the hat belonged to Bates.
On June 8, 2011, Bates was arrested for the car theft. The continuing investigation led to additional information about Rembert's activities between the time he was last seen by his wife and the day his body was found. A friend of the victim's told detectives that Rembert had gone out to buy drugs. He last spoke to him on April 25, 2011, a date consistent with the autopsy report, which indicated that Rembert was probably dead for one to two days before his body was found.
Other witnesses revealed that Bates began driving a silver-gray pickup truck right around the time Rembert went missing. He always wore gloves when operating the vehicle and stated that the truck was "hot," they said. Investigators also learned that the vacant home where Rembert was discovered had previously been rented by Bates and his family. Some still used the house as a place to use and sell drugs.
Later in the fall, individuals came forward and told police that Bates had confessed to the murder. He killed Rembert because Rembert stole drugs from him and his cousin, they said. On December 9, 2011, Bates was charged with the murder, arson, and theft.
During the course of the four-day trial, the State called 19 witnesses, including civilian witnesses, police officers, and experts in the fields of forensic pathology, arson, ignitable liquids, serology, and genetic material. After approximately 75 minutes of deliberations, the jury convicted Bates, 39, of first-degree murder, second-degree arson, and theft of between $1,000 and $10,000. Scheduled for sentencing on April 25, 2013, Bates faces a maximum of life plus 30 years in prison.
State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein commended the Baltimore City Fire Department and the Baltimore City Police Department for their work and thanked Baltimore City Assistant State's Attorney Robin Wherley, who prosecuted the case.