Monday, October 24, 2016

The Life and Tragic Death of a beloved Gypsy

The following information was gathered from online articles and by traveling to several of the locations involved.  For anyone familiar with the story, the majority of the dates and spellings are taken from the cemetery location and will differ from previous articles found online. All photographs were taken by me.  I have no connection to this family whatsoever and I mean no disrespect to the Stevens family involved.  With that being said . . .

"Sister Myra", who was part of a large gypsy family, lived in East Baltimore, Maryland for approximately 40 years.  For 30 of those years she lived and worked in a red brick house, on Pulaski Highway, as a palm reader and fortune teller.  She was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1930 and moved to Baltimore in the 1950s.  "Sister Myra", whose real name was Mary Debrah Stevens, was the daughter-in-law of King Dick Stevens.

Hundreds of Stevens’ family members emigrated from Romania at the turn of the Century. One of the family members, King Dick Stevens, moved to Baltimore, Maryland at the turn of the Century.  He became a citizen in 1904.  He operated a Cherry Hill coppersmith shop from the 1920s up until his death in 1959.  King Dick Stevens was also a National Gypsy leader until his death in 1959.  He led approximately 10,000 Gypsies from all over the nation.  His clan was considered the most powerful in the Unites States.

Debrah Stevens, the matriarch of the gypsy family, lived in the Pulaski Highway house by herself since her husband's death (Walter) in 1973.  Despite being a bit of a loner, she had been well-known, well-respected and well-loved in the Baltimore area.  She was known to offer refuge to caravans of gypsies that were traveling the East Coast.  She lived in the Pulaski Highway house up until her tragic murder in 1994.

Tuesday evening, November 15, 1994, Debrah Stevens had spoken on the phone with one of her three sons.  During their conversation she had mentioned to her son that she was concerned with a particular client.

On the morning of November 16, 1994, a witness stated that he had seen a man arguing with Debrah Stevens, on the front steps of her house, at approximately 9:30 a.m.  Shortly thereafter (previous articles state 9:30a.m.), one of Debrah Stevens' sons found her body in the living room area near the front door, her head found ten feet away.  Debrah Stevens was 64 years old at the time of her murder.

Douglas Thomas Clark was arrested approximately two hours after the body was found.  He tried committing suicide by throwing himself under an Amtrak train.  He obtained injuries due to jumping in front of an Amtrak police car several times.  After being caught, and treated for his injuries, Clark confessed to the crime.

Clark had stated that he had been consulting with Debrah Stevens because he believed Jamaicans had put a hex on him, believing such things like 'he could not die'.  Clark also believed Debrah Stevens was the devil.

The murder weapon Clark used was a blood-stained culinary saw which was found the day after the killing.  It was found in a trash receptacle across the street from the scene of the murder.  Clark's left ring finger fingerprint was found on the storm door.  Two panes of glass from a living room window were broken.

Judge Mabel H. Hubbard had ordered Clark be held without bail.  She sent him to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center for the criminally insane.  Prior to the court proceedings, Clark had received a psychiatric evaluation from Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center for the criminally insane. This is where Clark was held once taken into custody.  While under care it was found he suffered from schizophrenia.  The Doctors, however, concluded that Clark was competent to understand any and all charges against him.

On April 24, 1995, Douglas Thomas Clark (28) pleaded guilty, but not criminally responsible, to first degree murder and carrying a deadly weapon with intent of harming her. The Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Clifton J. Gordy, Jr., accepted those pleas and committed Clark to the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which would determine if and when he could be released.

In 2001, just six years after Clark's guilty plea, he was released to the care of his mother.  There have been no further details of his release.  To this day Clark's whereabouts are unknown other than the fact that he is walking free from a horrendous crime he committed decades ago.

Debrah Stevens’ funeral consisted of 100s of gypsies gathering in the city of Baltimore to celebrate her life over a three-day period.  Debrah Stevens was laid to rest beside her husband, Walter, and other Stevens’ family members in Western Cemetery.  Debrah Stevens was buried in a white sequined gown. Funeral attendees tossed coins on her white and silver coffin.  This is a tradition that is said to help ease her into the grave and into Heaven.  Family members and friends drank whiskey and poured it onto burial sites to allow the deceased to partake in the service.  There were two gypsies wearing traditional dress that danced beside the grave while an accordion and trombone player played a variety of music.

"Sister Myra" was buried with her favorite items, Bibles and tarot cards.  She was also buried with new dresses and makeup, "things a woman would need in the afterlife".  As her coffin was lowered in the ground, funeral attendees threw coins once again.  These coins are said to be used as payment into Heaven.

According to gypsy belief when a person goes to Heaven it is a new beginning. The funeral service should be a celebration filled with food and drink because it's a reflection of what happens in Heaven.  Most times funerals are huge celebrations with a lot of drinking, but due to the manner in which Debrah Stevens' died, it was a more subtle celebration.

Now, 2016, the house on Pulaski Highway still stands to this day, a bit rough around the edges, with a for sale sign on the side.  It was sold back in 1998 to the owner of a furniture store.  The owner of the furniture store had been using the house as a storage unit, extra parking for his employees and advertisement, with large advertising signs for the furniture store on both sides of the house.

I am a paranormal investigator and love to see abandoned buildings just waiting to be explored.  Yet, it saddens me that this red brick house still stands by itself, a mere memory of a horrific murder from decades ago. I would rather see the house torn down and maybe the empty lot made into a small grassy park with a memorial plaque for the beautiful life lost there.

"Sister Myra" I hope you continue to rest in peace with other family and friends who have passed prior to your death and who have since passed.

The following are photographs of the actual house as it stands today and photographs from Western Cemetery.

PULASKI HIGHWAY

PULASKI HIGHWAY

PULASKI HIGHWAY

PULASKI HIGHWAY

PULASKI HIGHWAY

WESTERN CEMETERY

WESTERN CEMETERY

WESTERN CEMETERY

WESTERN CEMETERY

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