DNA leads police to charge Laurel man with murder in 40-year-old cold case

A Laurel, Maryland, man has been charged in a rape and murder case that had gone without resolution for nearly 40 years, Howard County police said.

According to police, 62-year-old Howard Jackson Bradberry Jr., of Montgomery Street, was arrested Tuesday in connection to the kidnapping and murder of Laney Lee McGadney, who died in 1982.

Witnesses saw McGadney, who was 29, being abducted as she was walking to a grocery store in the Owen Brown Village Center on March 29, 1982. Her body was found that same day in a vacant lot. She had been raped and stabbed to death.

McGadney was the mother of four children.

Police investigations at the time did not identify the killer, and cold case investigators were tasked with finding new potential avenues for information. Early this year, DNA tests on items left at the crime scene linked Bradberry to McGadney’s death.

“I applaud the diligent persistence of our police investigators who, after 40 years, have never given up trying to solve this case,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “Hopefully, this
arrest will bring some measure of closure to the victim’s family and all those who knew her.”

Bradberry is currently being held at the Howard County Detention Center on bond.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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