Arrest made in cold-case killing of Md. woman after more than four decades

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland said detectives have arrested a suspect in a 44-year-old case of rape and homicide.

In August of 1979, 28-year-old Vickie Lynn Belk was found dead of a gunshot wound in a wooded area of Suitland. Though police at the time were unable to solve her murder, CCSO said that detectives in years that followed continued to pick up the case.

“This case occurred more than four decades ago and yet the detectives and forensics personnel never gave up,” said Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry in a news release. “They continuously looked for ways to identify a suspect. This arrest serves as a reminder of our commitment to doing everything we can to solve crimes. We never give up. We never stop seeking justice for victims. ”

The sheriff’s office said that in recent years, evidence from Belk’s killing had been reexamined, including DNA tests using newer technology.

Results of that test led to a positive match with 62-year-old Andre Taylor, of D.C., who was in the national database as a previously convicted violent offender in the District, the sheriff’s office said.

Arrest records from the 1980s revealed that Taylor lived in Bryans Road, Maryland, less than four miles from the area where Belk was found. Detectives said there is no evidence from their investigation that Taylor knew Belk.

After a Charles County grand jury indicted Taylor on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree rape and second-degree rape, he was arrested in D.C. on June 22. After waiving extradition, Taylor was later transported to Charles County, where he is being held without bond.

Vickie Lynn Belk before her murder in 1979. (Courtesy Vickie Belk Scholarship Foundation)

Belk was first reported missing to the Prince George’s County Police Department on Aug. 28, 1979 by her then-boyfriend, who she worked with at the Department of Agriculture in D.C.

According to police, he grew concerned when, after two days, she had not returned to her apartment in Suitland.

A day after the report, a teenager riding a bike around Metropolitan Church Road and Route 227, discovered the body some 20 feet off the road.

A county medical examiner identified Belk’s body a few days later and ruled that she had been killed by gunshot.

According to the sheriff’s office, although investigators at the time worked with numerous local and federal agencies examining evidence and following leads, the murder case eventually went cold.

In the following decades, the cold case was revisited by various detectives in the department, some now retired.

Most recently, Detective Sgt. John Elliott, the sheriff’s office’s Criminal Investigations Division, took on the case. With help from the department’s forensics lab, Taylor was identified as a suspect from resubmitted DNA evidence.

Belk’s sister Kay Belk said in a statement:

Nearly 44 years ago, our family lost Vickie Lynn Belk, a beloved mother, sister and friend to a tragic and heinous crime. … We are grateful for the tireless efforts of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office detectives and the forensics personnel who never ceased seeking justice on Vickie’s behalf.”

Following her death, the Belk family created The Vickie Belk Scholarship Foundation to honor her and provide scholarships in her memory.

Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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