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Baltimore officer charged with murder after stepson's body is found in crawlspace

Eric Banks Jr., 34, was arrested on charges of first- and second-degree murder as well as child abuse resulting in death.

A Baltimore police officer has been charged with murder in the death of his 15-year-old stepson, whose body was found hidden in an attic crawlspace.

Eric Banks Jr., 34, was initially arrested on charges of assault on a police officer and trying to disarm an officer, Anne Arundel County authorities said Wednesday during a morning news conference. Charges of first- and second-degree murder, as well as child abuse resulting in death, were added later, according to online court records filed Tuesday.

He is being held without bond.

The murder charges relate to the death of Dasan Jones, Banks' stepson.

The teen's body was found last week during a search of Banks' Anne Arundel County home after Jones' mother contacted police and said she could not reach her son by phone. The mother, who is married to Banks, told police that she believed her son was being held against his will, according to NBC affiliate WBAL of Baltimore, citing charging documents.

Authorities said Wednesday that officers went to Banks' home and questioned him. Banks told police that Jones had left and did not bring any of his belongings with him, according to Anne Arundel police.

Officers checked the home and found Jones in a crawlspace in an upstairs attic, police said. Bloody clothes were also found hidden in a dresser drawer.

“This is absolutely a heartbreaking, traumatic and horrific case, Anne Arundel County police Chief Amal Awad said. "This was a young man with a bright future yet his life … was tragically taken.”

After Banks was placed in handcuffs, he tried to grab an officer's gun, police said. Awad said it took several officers to get Banks into custody.

During the altercation, Banks said, "My life is over" and asked an officer to choke him, officials told reporters Wednesday.

A medical examiner ruled Jones' cause of death a homicide by asphyxiation, authorities said.

According to WBAL, Anne Arundel police had previously been called to Banks' home after his wife sought an order of protection in June. She said that she had suffered mental and emotional abuse and accused Banks of stalking her.

Warren Brown, an attorney for Banks, could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday. Brown previously told The Baltimore Sun that his client said he found Jones dead in a bathtub and believed the teen had committed suicide.

Baltimore police said Banks has been with the department since 2018 and was already suspended for an undisclosed reason. A police spokesman said he could not give specific details because an internal affairs investigation is ongoing.

Following Banks' arrest, he was suspended without pay while the case is investigated by authorities in Anne Arundel County, according to the Baltimore police spokesman.

In a statement, Baltimore police Commissioner Michael S. Harrison said: “The alleged actions of Officer Banks are not only deplorable, but shocking to the conscience. This is a classic example of why I have advocated for the autonomy and authority to terminate officers when they are facing heinous criminal allegations. Our department will continue to work closely with the Anne Arundel County Police Department during this ongoing investigation.”