Maryland man charged in 39-year-old rape, murder of woman abducted while walking to store

COLUMBIA, Md. — Laney Lee McGadney was walking to a Maryland grocery store one spring day in 1982 when she was abducted off the street.

The body of the 28-year-old mother of four was found later that day in a vacant lot in a yet-to-be developed subdivision 4 miles away. For nearly 40 years, there has been no arrest in the case, despite witnesses to the abduction and a recorded phone call to police directing them where to find McGadney’s lifeless body.

The search for answers came to an end Tuesday as detectives arrested Howard Jackson Bradberry Jr., 62, of Laurel, and charged him with murder, rape and kidnapping in McGadney’s death. He is being held in the Howard County Detention Center with bail set at $25,000.

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“We hope that after nearly 40 years, Laney McGadney’s family can have some kind of peace with this arrest,” Howard County police Chief Lisa Myers said in a statement. “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.”

Police officials said McGadney left her Columbia apartment March 29, 1982, to walk to the Giant grocery store that anchors the Owen Brown Village Center. Witnesses described seeing her being abducted along the way.

After the abduction, a man called police with a cryptic message.

Listen to the audio of the call below.

“If you were heading northbound on Route 32 and you took the first left after Hammond High (School), go to the end of that street, take a left, go down the end of that street and take a right,” the man said in the call. “There’s a little court. Look on the side of the curb, please.”

Before the dispatcher could ask what the man was talking about, he hung up.

Officers who followed the directions found McGadney’s body in a wooded area that is now the site of a residential development.

McGadney had been stabbed multiple times.

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“At the time of the incident, police collected evidence from the scene and conducted a lengthy investigation, but never identified the killer,” Howard County police officials said. “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 further investigation, Bradberry was arrested.

Court records show that Bradberry’s preliminary hearing is set for June 9.