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Former teacher, sex offender ends own life, police say

6-14-2007 Maryland:
A former Howard County teacher and convicted sex offender who evaded jail for 10 months in 2001 after he failed to show up to begin his incarceration was found dead in the Patapsco River, near Ellicott City, last week, in what Baltimore County police said was a suicide.

Klaude Joseph Krannebitter, 44, of the 700 block of Charing Cross Road, in Baltimore County, jumped to his death June 7 from a bridge on Interstate 70, near the Howard-Baltimore county line, according to Baltimore County police.

Krannebitter's body was discovered on the same day that he was scheduled to appear in Harford County Circuit Court for a trial on charges of drunken driving.

A fisherman discovered Krannebitter's body in shallow water shortly after 8 a.m., police said, adding that officers found Krannebitter's car parked on the bridge and a suicide note in the car.

Prior to his conviction in 1999 on charges that he had sex with a 15-year-old Baltimore County boy, Krannebitter taught health and physical education at Glenwood Middle School from 1986 to 1999, and for several years coached junior varsity and varsity boys basketball at Glenelg High School.

Money for sex acts, boy said

Krannebitter's legal troubles began March 21, 1999, when police arrested him during a traffic stop in Glenwood. The 15-year-old boy riding with Krannebitter told police he had known Krannebitter for about six months and that Krannebitter gave him money for sex acts, Howard County police said.

Krannebitter resigned from his teaching position at Glenwood Middle, schools spokeswoman Patti Caplan said.

In September 1999, Krannebitter pleaded guilty in Howard County Circuit Court to contributing to the delinquency of a minor by having sex with the minor, and to a charge of driving while intoxicated.

In March 2000, Judge Lenore Gelfman sentenced Krannebitter to two years in jail with all but six months suspended, along with five years of supervised probation and a $1,300 fine. Gelfman also ordered Krannebitter to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and to have no contact with minors.

Krannebitter also was tried in Baltimore County for offenses against the same 15-year-old boy.

In December 1999, he pleaded guilty to a third-degree sex offense and was sentenced in February 2000 to seven years in prison, all of which was suspended.

The judge ordered Krannebitter to register as a sex offender, remain drug and alcohol free and seek counseling.

Failed to report to jail

At his sentencing on the Howard County charges, Gelfman ordered Krannebitter to report for his six-month jail term in March 2001.

However, when the date came for Krannebitter to begin his term, he failed to show. Howard County Sheriff's deputies began a search for him that was to last 10 months.

In May 2001, Krannebitter's name and photograph appeared in publicity materials for a theater production in Towson that were sent to this newspaper. A reporter for the paper alerted theater producers to Krannebitter's fugitive status and the sheriff to Krannebitter's planned performance in the production.

Although deputies were unable to apprehend him at that time, they tracked the use of his bank card to sites in Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.

FBI agents arrested Krannebitter in Rehoboth Beach, Del., in January 2002.

On Feb. 8, 2002, Gelfman sentenced Krannebitter to serve his original two-year sentence in state prison. He was released from the Patuxent Institution on March 17, 2003, according to a state prison data clerk.

In April 2006, Harford County authorities charged Krannebitter with driving under the influence of alcohol. He requested a jury trial in the case, which was originally scheduled for March 1, 2007.

In late February, Krannebitter requested the trial be postponed. A judge granted Krannebitter's request and rescheduled the trial for June 7 at 9:30 a.m., the same day Krannebitter's body was discovered in the Patapsco River. ..more.. by Jennifer Surface

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