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Nearly 40 Years After a Chilling 911 Call Led Police to Her Corpse, Laney Lee McGadney’s Alleged Rapist and Killer Has Been Arrested


Howard Bradberry's mugshot

Laney Lee McGadney was 28 years old when she was abducted on the way to the grocery store in 1982. Raped and then stabbed, her body was found later that same day in a nearby vacant lot. Now, after nearly 40 years, police say they’ve finally caught McGadney’s killer.

Howard Jackson Bradberry Jr., 62, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with one count each of first- and second-degree murder; first- and second-degree rape; and one count of kidnapping, according to the Howard County Police Department in Maryland.

“We hope that after nearly 40 years, Laney McGadney’s family can have some kind of peace with this arrest,” Howard Police Chief Lisa Myers said in a press release. “Nothing will ever erase the pain of losing a loved one in such a violent and tragic way. Our cold case investigators are committed to bringing justice for victims and families, no matter how much time has passed.”

Chillingly, a 911 call from the day of McGadney’s disappearance and murder was made by a long-unknown caller that described, turn-by-turn, the route that one would take to discover the young mother’s corpse.

“An unknown male called police communications and provided detailed directions to the scene prior to the murder being reported to the public,” Howard County officials noted in a YouTube description for the still-available emergency call.

The man in the audio tells the operator:

Uh, if you were heading northbound on Route 32; and you took the first left after Hammond High, go down the end of that street, take left; go down the end of that street, and take a right; there’s a little court, look over the side of the curb, please.

Specific details about the 39-year-long investigation into McGadney’s disappearance, rape and murder are scarce. A cold case, authorities claim that Bradberry was finally linked to the crime scene through the result of recent DNA testing.

“At the time of the incident, police collected evidence from the scene and conducted a lengthy investigation, but never identified the killer,” the department noted. “Since then, cold case investigators have revisited the evidence to determine whether they could identify any new leads. In early 2021, they received results of a DNA test performed on items discarded at the crime scene that linked Bradberry to the crime.”

After gathering unidentified “additional information,” Bradberry was charged and arrested earlier this week. He is currently being held on $25,000 bond at the Howard County Department of Corrections.

Bradberry was scheduled for an initial appearance in the Howard County District Court on Wednesday of this week, according to court records reviewed by Law&Crime. His next court date is currently slated for June 9, 2021.

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

Laney Lee McGadney

Laney Lee McGadney

On the day of her death, McGadney left her Columbia, Md. apartment to walk to a grocery store in the Owen Brown Village Center. She never made it that far. Witnesses at the time recalled seeing the young mother of four kidnapped somewhere on Oakland Mills Road.

The vacant lot where her body was discovered is now known as Water Lily Way.

[Images via Howard County PD]

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