It was a case that went cold, but was always close to home for the family, friends and police detectives trying to figure out who killed 15-year-old Stacy Lynn Hoffmaster in Frederick.
“This investigation has continued since 1996. It's been assigned to several different detectives and the investigative process has not stopped since the day that Stacy was reported missing until the day we were able to close this case, which was just last week,” said Frederick Police Lt. Clark Pennington.
Hoffmaster was reported missing on Oct. 2, 1996. Her body was found a few months later on Dec. 23, 1996. The state medical examiner determined that Hoffmaster was strangled to death and last week, investigators arrested Lloyd Harris, 52, who was charged with her murder.
Hoffmaster was found under a moving blanket off Interstate 70 and E. South Street, right near where police said Harris was living in a wooded area.
“Because he was in the area we do know they were familiar with each other that relationship though is not really clear and we're not really going to go into too much of that,” Pennington said. “I think that's information that needs to be presented at trial.”
However, he added that it was a fresh pair of eyes that largely led to a break in the case. Det. Kevin Forrest was assigned as the new lead investigator in November 2014, taking over for Det. Mike Morgan, who retired as the case's primary investigator.
“[Detective Forrest] has taken this case on and reviewed it from the beginning, read every supplement, every report written by every past detective, he's interviewed every past detective and witness or individual listed in the case file,” Pennington said.
Frederick Police detectives then presented the case to the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office, who brought the case before the Grand Jury on Jan. 22. The Frederick County Grand Jury handed down an indictment for first-degree murder, first-degree rape, and third-degree sex offense.
Frederick police along with the FBI Fugitive Task Force and local homicide detectives arrested Harris in Kansas City, Missouri on January 28.
On Tuesday, Harris waived extradition and will be transported to the Frederick County Adult Detention Center in the coming weeks where he will await trial. He faces a maximum life sentence in state prison without the possibility of parole.
Hoffmaster's family asked for privacy in regards to the recent developments, but a statement was released in a Facebook message sent through the “In Loving Memory of Stacy Lynn Hoffmaster” memorial page. It read: “As of right now the family would like privacy as they are dealing with a lot of emotions. I can tell you she was a kind soul wouldn't have hurt a fly. She was an amazing friend daughter and sister. She is greatly missed every single day. 20 years was a long time to wait for an arrest, now all we hope for is a conviction, so she can rest in peace.”