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DNA leads to arrest in a nearly 40-year-old Columbia cold case

Howard Jackson Bradberry, Jr.,  and Laney McGadney
Posted at 3:35 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 17:09:53-04

COLUMBIA, Md. — She had walked the same path to the Owen Brown Village Center in Columbia many times, but this time on March 29, 1982, 28-year-old Laney Lee McGadney’s trip would be cut short.

RELATED: Howard County Police make arrest in 1982 rape and murder of a 28-year-old mother of four

“As she was crossing Oakland Mills Road and Oak Hill Lane near the Post Office now, witnesses reported that she was abducted,” said Sean Hoffman of the Howard County Police Department.

Witnesses described a white male with long hair and a bandana forcefully grabbing the victim and dragging her into a brown Ford LTD.

About three hours later, McGadney’s body turned up in a vacant lot in a cul-de-sac we know today as Water Lilly Way.

According to charging documents, she had been raped, stabbed and her throat had been slashed.

Detectives found little evidence at the scene except for some napkins with bodily fluids near the victim.

Her killer eluded police for almost 40 years.

“Our cold case detective goes back and he re-tests the DNA on the napkin and comes up with a hit,” said Hoffman.

Police tracked down an out-of-work truck driver, 62-year-old Howard Jackson Bradberry, who goes by the first name ‘Jack’, where he was renting an apartment in Laurel, and he now faces a series of charges in connection with the death of McGadney who left behind four children.

“I’m surprised by how extreme the crime was, but Jack had his struggles. I don’t think anyone is really surprised that he was on the wrong side of the law,” said Sydney Cromwell who lived across the street from him. “Her children would be older than us now and to go your entire adult life not knowing what happened to your mother? That must be just an incredible burden to live with.”

Bradberry is being held at the Howard County Detention Center on a bond of $25,000.