WASHINGTON –It was the summer of 1975 when 15-year-old Kathy Lynn Beatty disappeared.
The next day, it was her own sister, just a few years older, who discovered the seriously wounded Kathy in a wooded area not far from their Aspen Hill, Md., home. Police say she’d been sexually assaulted, and her skull crushed. She died days later.
Now, nearly 40 years later, Kathy Beatty’s memory is still very much alive for Steve Kerpelman. A retired Prince George’s County Police officer-turned-private- investigator, Kerpelman says Beatty’s case “Is one of these things that you never forgot”.
That’s because Kerpelman was a classmate of Kathy Beatty’s. She even signed his yearbook. He remembers Kathy’s red hair and sweet nature. “She was quiet, smiled a lot.” she was, he says, ” just easy to get along with.”
That night, in July of 1975, 15-year-old Kathy left her Aspen Hill, Md., home headed to a friend’s house. Her mother says Kathy had left a note, saying she’d gone to a party and that she’d be back by 10 p.m. “That was unusual for her,” says her mom, adding that the rules were Kathy was to be home by the time it got dark.
Her mother, now 80, remembers that on the night that Kathy went missing, there was a violent thunderstorm. It pains her to think of her injured daughter, left helpless in the storm. “She must have been terrified. It’s a terrible thing to be laying there, and you can’t get away and you can’t do anything.” Her thin voice trails off on the phone line. “Oh, if I just could have been there that night…”
Kerpelman has been on this case for six years, and he’s hoping that new appeals on social media may generate the information that might lead to a break in the cold case. He urges people to call him (1-240-304-8633), even if they think what they have to tell him is insignificant. “Over the last couple of month we’ve received a lot of information” and he attributes that to new outreach on a Facebook page dedicated to Kathy Beatty.
Kathy’s mom shares Kerpelman’s sense of encouragement, saying, “this time, I have more hope than I’ve ever had before. I really think that we’re going to get answers to this”. She’s grateful for Kerpelman’s doggedness. “I just pray with my whole heart that this will be solved before I leave this world”.