TWO FOUND DEAD: THE BODY OF CECELIA GARNER WAS FOUND AT BRETON BAY BOAT RAMP DURING TROPICAL STORM OPHELIA; BODY FOUND IN CRISPY PICKUP
ABELL’S WHARF – The body of Cecelia Louise Garner, 71 (DOB 02/1953), a recent resident of Christmas Tree Mobile Home Park near Leonardtown, was discovered along the beach at the Abell’s Wharf Boat Ramp on Breton Bay as Tropical Storm Ophelia raged in the region. Weather conditions on Breton Bay included strong winds and currents and tides more than two feet higher than usual, which could have affected the movement of a body significantly from the point of entry into the water and the location where it was found.
While the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department was quick to report that no foul play was suspected, the agency has decades’ worth of bodies without culprits littering the annals of crime in the region as evidence has been lost and misplaced.
The Following Information Has Been Requested from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department:
- What time of day was the report of the discovered body?
- What was the cause and manner of death?
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner responded, and a representative confirmed that the autopsy had been completed, but the results are still pending.
Victim of Domestic Violence shortly before death
Garner requested and was granted a peace bond in a domestic violence case against Robert Buckler on September 3, 2023, in St. Mary’s District Court before Judge James Tanavage. The protective order was issued by Judge Tanavage on Sept. 5, 2023, and served on the respondent Buckler on September 8, 2023, according to court records.
Dawn Garner posted this message on her Facebook page on September 23, 2023: “This is my momma; someone found her today in the river; she died. I will never understand; my heart hurts. I love you.”
“I have a few people asking if they could help with expenses for my mom. I set everything up at Brinsfield Funeral Home; if you want to make a donation, please send the money directly to them and put Cecelia Garner’s name on the check or take cash and tell them who it’s for, and please let me know who is donating so I can thank you for the help.”
According to the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer ALisa Casas, the police believe that foul play is not involved even though an autopsy was yet to be performed prior to that surprising surmise by the investigators. The Sheriff Criminal Investigation Division is commanded by Captain Edward Willenborg, who approves all press releases in this matter. As of September 26, 2023, PIO Casas said she is checking to learn if the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has completed an autopsy and, if so, what was the cause and manner of death.
The exact time of the discovery of the body is unknown, and Casas has been requested to confirm the time in order to coordinate with the tides that took place that day during the Tropical Storm, which flooded several locations nearby on Breton Bay, including Fitzies Marina. Casas said that the body was found near the pier located on the county boat ramp property at Abell’s Wharf.
Abell’s Wharf was once the site of a popular tavern where residents gathered for boat races before being purchased by Maryland Rock, which operated a gravel mine for about thirty years. Occasional barges with gravel arrive during some months with gravel and stone for off-loading; however, mining operations have ceased.
The St. Mary’s County-owned boat ramp property is open to the public and does not have any employee oversight, and the ramp is free without charge for users.
Cecelia Garner was divorced from Curby D. Garner in 2003, according to court records; however, Facebook posts show they are still friends on the social media platform.
The diminutive woman was but 4’11” tall and sometimes used the middle name of Russell instead of Louise, but court records show the same date of birth for both. Both Garner and her husband once lived in Thomasville, North Carolina. Curby Garner died on October 7, 2016, in Leonardtown.
A daughter of Cecelia Garner, Dawn Rehnee Garner, prior to her divorce, once lived on a farm not far from Abell’s Wharf, while two sons of the deceased live in North Carolina.
Cecilia Garner and Billy Garner were defendants in failure to pay rent by their landlord several times in the past year, with the most recent action in June of 2023. In 2018, District Court Judge Robyn Riddle found Cecilia Garner guilty of failing to obey a court protective order and was placed on probation.
The St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department has yet to solve the murder of Henrietta Ragan, who was found dead in her home overlooking Breton Bay in 1959, just two doors down from the St. Mary’s County Courthouse where the Sheriff’s headquarters was located at the time.
The unsolved murder of Sara Sapp, found dead after being set afire in a car next to a barn on the Davis Farm in Charlotte Hall, now the site of the Veterans Administration Clinic on Rt. 5, is linked by a suspect in that murder to the discovery of the body of Garner in that a man charged in the murder of Sapp was once a resident of the same neighborhood in which Garner lived in recent years.
Christopher Wilson was charged with the murder of Sapp but not convicted when the Judge in the case said he couldn’t rely on the testimony of witnesses who were grossly unreliable due to their drug use. A cohort of Wilson entered a guilty plea to accessory to the murder of Sapp and spent a year in jail for his role in the murder.
When a doctor on St. George Island was found dead at his weekend home, inexperienced and incompetent investigators flubbed that investigation, as was the case in the death of Timothy Harper at McKay’s Beach. The Harper murder was finally solved years later when fresh eyes of probing investigators led by the former Sheriff Captain Daniel Alioto, commander of the Criminal Investigation and Narcotics Division, followed up on the unsolved homicide, leading to the 2006 confession of the culprit and his later conviction. Alioto later resigned from the Sheriff’s Department while under investigation for lack of truthfulness.
The murder of Homer Payne in Hollywood was typical for legendary St. Mary’s County incompetence and buffoonery between police and prosecutors and is still unsolved.
Firefighters find dead man in pickup after dousing fire.
LEONARDTOWN, MD – On Wednesday, September 20, 2023, Deputies from the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department reported that Valley Lee firefighters put out a burning vehicle and found a dead male inside the pickup truck.
The Second District Volunteer Fire Department reported to Deputies they had extinguished the blaze of a 2011 Ford Ranger and discovered an unidentified deceased male in the driver’s seat.
Authorities from the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal and the St. Mary’s Sheriff Criminal Investigations Division were called to the location to initiate an investigation.
The St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department reported that they seemed to know who the dead guy was when the press release on the death discovery said that the name of the victim was being withheld pending positive identification.