The Laurel Chronicles
By Kevin Leonard
Welcome to the “Laurel Chronicles.” In addition to his “History Matters” column in the Laurel Leader, Kevin will post this feature here every month for more local history stories. Notices for new columns will be posted on The Laurel History Boys’ Facebook page.
December 28, 2020
The Perfect Crime With One Flaw: Her Big Mouth
The Murder of Steve Hricko
The news reports were progressively more horrific. The local paper, the Easton Star-Democrat, was the first to report the tragedy on Monday, February 16, 1998. Under the headline, “Guest dies in fire at golf resort,” the brief, three-paragraph article contained few details. “ST. MICHAELS ― Maryland State Police and the state fire marshal’s office are investigating a fatal fire at the Harbourtowne Golf Resort and Conference Center that may have begun on or near a bed in one of the guest suites early Sunday morning.”
Three days later, the same paper identified the guest who died in the fire as Stephen M. Hricko, from Laurel, and provided some early gruesome details. “Hricko was burned from the torso up but the cause of his death has not yet been determined.” According to the State Fire Marshal’s office, the fire was contained to a small area “since the room was so well insulated, the fire appeared to have smothered itself.”
According to the article, “Hricko and his wife, Kim, attended an audience participation murder mystery play at the resort last Saturday night … During the play, the bridegroom fell dead after the bride’s mother poisoned him. The fire was reported in one of the cottages several hours later, at about 1:25 a.m.”
That same day, Feb. 19, both the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun picked up the story of the tragedy, with the angle of the murder mystery play irresistible to headline writers. “Laurel Man, Wife Were on Murder-Mystery Weekend at Resort” was the headline in the Sun, while the Post’s was rather lame: “‘Whodunit’ Fan’s Death Stumps Police; Man Burned After Taking Part in Interactive Drama on Eastern Shore.”
Even though both the Sun and the Post provided more detail as to what happened, it still seemed mysterious. “Stephen Michael Hricko of Belle Ami Drive in Laurel was declared dead in his room shortly before 2 a.m. Burned from the waist up, his body was found on the floor next to the bed,” according to the Sun. “‘It was an accident,’ said Mary Esther Hricko, the victim’s mother, reached by phone. ‘Of course, no one did it. We’re all upset.’”
About three hours after the end of the play, continued the Sun, “according to hotel management, Hricko’s wife, Kimberly, 33, ran to the front desk asking someone to call 911 because of a fire in the couple’s room. Kimberly Hricko was questioned by investigators at the scene and again on Monday. She was unavailable for comment last night.”
The Post interviewed Bobbi Benitz, an actress in the murder mystery play. “It was just very strange the way it happened. It’s just so bizarre,” she said. Other details were included in the Post’s article: “A state police spokesman said Hricko’s wife … was not in the room at the time of the fire.” Deputy State Fire Marshal W. Faron Taylor “said investigators had found no evidence of” an accelerant at the scene of the fire. “Hricko, 35, was the golf course superintendent at Patuxent Greens Country Club in Laurel.”
The Laurel Leader described the events following the play. “Philip Parker, Jr., of Salisbury, another guest at the resort who had participated in the interactive play, said he, his girlfriend, and his family were leaving the resort’s bar nearly two hours after the play when Hricko’s wife ran in looking for members of the staff. She said her room was on fire and the door was locked so she couldn’t get in. According to Parker, Mrs. Hricko was ‘relatively calm’ and was fully dressed when she came looking for help.”
Parker raced to the room and looked through the sliding glass door on the patio. He could see a body on the floor between the beds. He braved the flames and smoke and crawled in to pull Steve Hricko onto the patio. As Parker described Hricko’s body, “only his shoulders, chest and head had been burned” but “you couldn’t even see the features of the head or face.”
So, what happened?
Steve and Kimberly Hricko, who had an 8-year-old daughter, were in marriage counseling to address problems in their relationship. Kim had asked Steve for a divorce but reluctantly agreed to counseling first. Mike Miller, Steve’s best friend since childhood and the golf superintendent at Harbourtowne, suggested the Valentine’s Day weekend at the resort. Steve saw the weekend getaway as a major step in repairing their marriage, which he was desperate to do. It later came out that Kim didn’t want to go on a getaway with Steve—she wanted to get away from Steve.
Kim was a hospital surgical technologist at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring. Her duties included setting up operating rooms, handling surgical instruments and assisting during operations, and, most importantly, cleaning up after operations.
Starting immediately after the fire, as soon as Kim started talking to investigators, whether in a formal interview or not, suspicions were aroused. Things didn’t add up. Once investigators started interviewing family and friends, things got worse for Kim for one simple reason: she couldn’t keep her mouth shut.
The book An Act of Murder, by investigative reporter Linda Rosencrance, is a detailed account of the case. In a phone interview, Rosencrance told me of another problem for Kim: she thought she was smarter than everybody else, including police investigators.
By interviewing police, attorneys, court officials, family, and friends, Rosencrance in her book paints a much more complete portrait of events than was reported in the media. Many descriptions of events below, except for the quotes attributed to various newspapers, are culled from the book. Passages used verbatim from An Act of Murder are in quotes or indented.
One of the first two police officers on the scene, Officer Stephen Craig from the St. Michaels Police Department, was evacuating other guests just minutes after Parker had pulled Steve’s body from the room. It was then he saw Kim for the first time.
As Parker and Craig were talking, Kimberly approached Craig. She was holding her cell phone in her left hand. She kept saying she wanted “to see the body,” although she hadn’t yet been told that Steve was dead.
Several hours later, Maryland State Police Trooper Clay Hartness and Father Paul Jennings, State Police Chaplain, informed Kim of her husband’s death. “‘Her response was not very emotional,’ Jennings testified later.” Then Trooper Hartness asked Kim what happened. It was the first time an investigator questioned her.
Kim told Hartness that after leaving the murder-mystery production, she and Steve bought some beer from the bar and returned to their room. Once in the room Steve began pressuring her for sex, she said. When she refused, Steve became “pushy” and was “groping” her. She said she continued to resist Steve’s advances and then they started arguing. She told Hartness “I didn’t want to get into it, so I got my keys and my purse, got in the car, and left.” She said she drove to Easton looking for the home of some friends, but she said she wasn’t familiar with the area and never found the house. She said she couldn’t even find Route 50 and had to get directions back to St. Michaels. Kim told Hartness that when she got back to Harbourtowne, she realized she didn’t have her electronic key card to get back into her room.
She said she remembered that she and Steve had been using the sliding glass door and thought it might still be unlocked, so she went around to the back of the complex. Kim said she pushed the door open and was confronted by thick smoke. She said she screamed, pushed back the curtain, and felt around for the light switch, but couldn’t find it. She told the trooper she ran to the other rooms and knocked on the doors, screaming for help, but no one answered. Next she drove to the main building and went into the lobby, screaming that her room was on fire. She said several people who were in the lobby quickly ran to her room. She told Hartness she tried to go back to the room, but she was stopped by “someone in a uniform.”
Her detailed story, told just a few hours after her dead husband was pulled from a fire, raised suspicions.
Fire investigator Mike Mulligan arrived on the scene with his dog trained to detect accelerants. Per his usual procedure before leading the dog to a fire scene, Mulligan put a drop of gasoline on a random spot in the parking lot. When the dog passed it, “he gave me a hit where I put the drop of accelerant.” In the Hrickos’ room, the dog detected an accelerant between the beds where Steve died. “However, because lab tests did not detect any accelerant—Mulligan said it probably evaporated—he was not able to testify at trial as to what the dog detected.”
Investigators found that the fire was contained to the bed, headboard, and the wall above the bed. A pillow exhibited a silhouette of Steve’s head formed by falling soot.
Another pillow—unburned—was found on the opposite side of the bed from where Steve was laying. A Playboy magazine opened to the centerfold was on the pillow. And under the pillow was a pack of Backwoods cigars, missing one cigar. Two nearly full beer bottles were on the nightstand.
Around 5:00 am, two Maryland State Police Troopers, who had taken over in leading the investigation, interviewed Kim, who had been sleeping in another room. In this interview, she expanded the details:
Kimberley explained that she and Steve had been having marital problems for about three months and decided to attend the Valentine’s weekend hoping to revive their marriage. According to Kim, Steve got “sloppy drunk” during the evening, drinking all but one glass from the complimentary bottle of champagne that was left in their room, as well as drinking wine at dinner, more champagne, and beer. And, after the dinner show, the couple purchased more beer to drink back at their room. Kim told the officers that Steve was taking several types of prescription medicine for his depression, including Xanax. She said he was also taking the over-the-counter liquid cold medicine Theraflu. According to Kim, Steve took the Xanax and Theraflu around 7:00 p.m., just before they went to dinner. Kim also told the officers that her husband regularly chewed tobacco and always smoked cigars when he drank. However, she said she didn’t think Steve bought or brought any cigarettes or cigars with him to Harbourtowne. She said she didn’t, either.
Kim said when she and Steve got back to their room they watched the movie Tommy Boy and then started watching the 11:00 p.m. news when Steve began “pawing” her. Kim said she was surprised because she and Steve had agreed there would be no sex during the weekend. She also said she was surprised at her husband’s advances because when he wanted sex he usually turned to pornography, not her. She said she left the room because of the fight over Steve’s drunken behavior, adding that it wasn’t a physical fight. Kim explained that Steve had never been physically abusive toward her.
The officers were surprised “that she exhibited little reaction” and that she “offered very detailed information to police—information that they had not asked for, and that was very unexpected.”
Kim’s story began to fall apart as soon as investigators talked to friends and witnesses. Steve’s best friend Mike Miller told police that Steve didn’t smoke and that “there was no way he would have been drinking heavily that weekend.”
Investigators questioned Henry Dove, Maryland Assistant State’s Attorney, who happened to be sitting at the Hricko’s table during dinner. Dove told police, “I couldn’t even swear he had one beer, but maybe he did, but he certainly wasn’t drinking heavily.”
By Monday evening, two days after the fire, two friends had called police and said Kim “might have killed her husband by injecting him with a drug that would paralyze his muscles, preventing him from moving and leaving him helpless.” They also put police in contact with a third friend who could corroborate the story. How did they know this? Kim told them her plan.
Jenny Gowen and Norma Walz worked at Holy Cross with Kim and were close friends, even though Norma had since moved to Washington State. Norma and Kim were bridesmaids in Jenny’s wedding in November 1997. During the wedding festivities, Kim met Jenny’s cousin, Brad Winkler, who was in the military. Unknown to her friends, Kim started an affair with Winkler.
A few weeks after the wedding, Kim disclosed the affair to her friends, upsetting Jenny. Tellingly, “Kim was furious with Jenny for not supporting her. Kim felt Jenny was only worried about how the affair would affect her and her marriage … She didn’t seem to care about what Kim wanted.”
Jenny and Norma had a phone conversation just before learning about Steve’s death.
During their conversation, Jenny shared something with Norma that made her skin crawl.
“Jenny said Kim was feeling like she would never be able to divorce Steve and it would be easier if he were dead.”
Later, in a conversation about insurance, Kim told Norma that she had taken out a $250,000 smoker’s term life insurance policy on Steve, even though he didn’t smoke.
Rachel McCoy was another very close friend of Kim’s dating back to their days in high school. After speaking to Rachel on the phone the day Kim returned to her home in Laurel after Steve’s death, she relayed the conversation to another friend, Maureen Miller, Mike’s wife, who was also a friend of Kim’s since college.
She was visibly pissed off.
“She thinks I killed Steve,” Kim said to Maureen.
“What would give her that crazy idea?” Maureen asked.
“Because we were out in a bar one night and I was drunk and I was mad at Steve about a fight we had and I said I wanted to kill him,” Kim said.
The conversation with McCoy that Kim mentioned took place just two weeks before the Harbourtowne weekend.
“She said she either had a drug or could get a drug at work that she would inject in Steve that would cause his muscles to become paralyzed and stop him from beathing,” Rachel said. “Kim said the drug couldn’t be traced.”
To make it look like an accident, Kim said, she would light a cigar or candles and set the curtains in the house on fire and burn the house down with Steve in it. That way it would appear that he died as a result of the fire and smoke. Kim told Rachel that her life would be so much easier.
Kim had also confided in a Laurel neighbor, Teri Armstrong, “that she had been thinking about several different ways of killing Steve, basically for the insurance money” to support her and her daughter.
But the most damaging information about Kim came from a co-worker at Holy Cross Hospital, Ken Burgess, who told investigators about a conversation he had with Kim about a year earlier at the hospital.
I had my back to her and she made a statement about wanting to have her husband killed and would I do it, or would I know somebody that would kill her husband.
Thinking Kim was joking, Burgess turned around to look at her and made an off-the-cuff comment.
“Why would you want to kill your husband?” Burgess asked. “You work in the operating room, why don’t you just give him some curare and put him to sleep.” I was kind of joking. When I turned around and I looked at her, I could tell she wasn’t joking. She just said she had to get it done.
As the forensic investigation continued, the investigators’ suspicions proved correct. The Medical Examiner reported to police that “the autopsy indicated that there was no carbon dioxide in Stephen Hricko’s blood, nor was there evidence of soot or burns in his trachea or related injuries to his lungs. That meant that Steve was either not breathing, or dead, before the fire in his room started.” The ME also reported that “there was no alcohol in his blood.”
When Kim’s conversation with Burgess became known, the ME suspected that Steve was injected with succinylcholine, which is used as a muscle relaxant during surgery and to assist with intubation of a surgical patient. According to Rosencrance, “when injected into the body, it would take between four and six seconds to paralyze a person’s skeletal muscles and for the person to stop breathing and then die.” Amazingly, succinylcholine is considered a noncontrolled substance (since abuse results in death) so it is not subject to controls like other drugs used in operating rooms. Surgical technicians, like Kim, have access to the drug when cleaning the operating room. Unfortunately, in 1998 there was no forensic test to detect succinylcholine, because of the speed with which the body metabolizes the drug.
Investigators found other problems with Kim’s story. None of the guests in the adjoining rooms heard anyone banging on doors or yelling “Fire!” until around 1:30, when the resort management did it.
The pack of cigars on the bed was another clue. Police checked out 25 liquor and convenience stores in Laurel. They hit the jackpot when they visited Astor Home Liquors in the Laurel Shopping Center (not far from the Hricko home on Belle Ami Drive in Laurelton, next to Laurel High School). Not only did the State Police lab confirm the price sticker on the pack in the burned bed was the same as those on the shelf at Astor Home, but the cashier picked out Kim’s photo as the woman who bought the cigars.
Fire investigators attempted to replicate starting the fire using the same cigars and the same bedding from Harbourtowne. Despite multiple attempts, they were not able to start a fire at all with those items.
On Feb. 23, Maryland State Police investigators Sergeant Karen Alt and Corporal Keith Elzey confronted Kim with some of their findings.
Sergeant Alt asked Kimberly if she was having an affair. She said she wasn’t. Alt then asked her if she knew a U.S. Marine named Brad Winkler. Kim appeared shocked, but she didn’t say a word. Alt and Elzey told her they knew about her affair with Winkler. Kim bowed her head, then looked up and acknowledged the affair.
Elzey asked Kim to tell him again how much alcohol Steve drank the night before he died. Kim said he was drinking heavily. Elzey then confronted her with the results of the medical examiner’s toxicology report, which indicated Steve had a blood alcohol level of 0.00.
Kim appeared stunned and said it didn’t make sense.
Next Elzey confronted Kimberley with the medical examiner’s report indicating there was no carbon monoxide or soot found in Steve’s body.
Again Kim appeared stunned.
“I don’t understand,” she repeated.
Kim lowered her head and then looked up.
“How can that be?” she asked, crying.
“Please tell me the whole truth about what happened that night,” Elzey said.
Kim bent over, put her head in her hands, and continued crying. Still crying, she got up, sat in another chair, and put her face in her hands.
“If I tell you what happened, can I go home tonight and see my daughter?” she asked.
Kim abruptly changed her mind and asked for a lawyer. Police allowed Kim to stay in Easton with Mike Miller and his wife.
That evening, police served a warrant at the Millers’ house to search Kim’s car. While the search was underway, Kim was upstairs, ostensibly taking a bath. When Maureen Miller went in to check on her, “She’s talking and she’s slurring her words. And I knew she had taken something,” said Miller. She found “an empty bottle of pills that had Xanax written on it.”
While the police were executing the search warrant, Kim was taken away in an ambulance. But all was not as it seemed.
“Apparently Kim staged it to make it look like she was going to get in the bathtub, slit her wrists, and kill herself, because it turned that the medication she had actually taken was not Xanax, according to the toxicology report,” Maureen said. “Kim put something else in the Xanax bottle and that’s what she took.”
The nurse at the hospital told Maureen that Kim would be fine. In fact, the nurse said that Kim would have been worse off taking a bottle of aspirin.
In a search of their home in the Laurelton neighborhood conducted at the same time police were searching Kim’s car in Easton, Steve’s journal was found.
Steve’s writings painted a picture of a man desperate to do whatever it took to make his marriage work—a man worried about his wife’s feelings, even as she was seeing another man and planning his murder.
“I feel she doesn’t understand how deeply I love her—I mean real love. I am afraid I won’t get the chance to make the marriage right,” Steven said, adding that all his fears stemmed from his depression.
Two days later, Kim was arrested. She was denied bail and placed on a suicide watch.
Kim Hricko’s trial began 11 months after the fire. Prosecutors lost some key pre-trial motions before Talbot County Circuit Judge William S. Horne. Two syringes—one found on the golf course and the other in the Hricko’s home—were ruled inadmissible. Kim’s lawyer successfully “argued that the needle was not relevant because an autopsy of Stephen Hricko did not reveal any needle marks,” according to the Star-Democrat. The fact that he was burned beyond recognition apparently didn’t matter.
Also ruled out was any mention of Kim’s so-called attempted suicide at the Millers’ home. And fire investigator Mike Mulligan’s testimony was limited by the judge. He did testify about his failed attempts to replicate the fire but was barred from mentioning the results from the dog.
In his opening statement, Special Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Dean summarized Kim’s actions, as reported in the Star-Democrat: “Her husband was poisoned by a drug that paralyzes, then burned beyond recognition. Exactly what the defendant wanted, exactly what she planned. To say it was cruel and sinister would be kind.”
Defense attorney Harry Trainor countered in his opening statement that “loose talk and inappropriate conduct before the incident on the part of Kimberly Hricko was suspicious, but nothing more,” according to the Leader.
But the headway made by the defense in the pre-trial motions was no match for the testimony from friends and co-workers. One by one, Jenny Gowen, Ken Burges, Norma Walz, Rachel McCoy, Teresa Armstrong, and Maureen Miller all testified that Kim talked about killing Steve.
Kim did not take the stand.
After a five-day trial, the jury deliberated for three hours and found Kim guilty of first-degree murder and arson. According to the Sun, “Defense attorney William Brennan Jr. said his legal team was unable to overcome testimony from former friends of Kimberly Hricko. ‘It was clearly not based on the medical or scientific evidence,’ Brennan said. ‘It was her near and dear friends who testified that made all the difference.’”
“‘The defendant nearly committed the perfect crime,’ [prosecutor] Dean said. ‘But her tormented and brave friends knew what was going on and what they had to do.’”
At her sentencing in March 1999, Judge Horne called Kim “a very dangerous person” and sentenced her to life in prison for murder and 30 years for arson, with the sentences to be served concurrently. In its coverage, the Sun noted that Kim “has never admitted guilt in the death” of her husband.
In September 2000, a three-judge panel in the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland upheld Kim Hricko’s conviction. The court’s opinion, written by Judge Charles E. Moylan, Jr., contained an entertaining comparison of the Hricko case to the play-within-a-play of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Moylan, noting that the murder mystery play at Harbourtowne that Valentine’s Day was titled “The Bride Who Cried,” said the Hricko case “may well be called ‘The Widow Who Lied’.”
Sprinkled throughout the opinion in between summaries of testimony and the investigation, Moylan printed quotes from Shakespeare. Some examples:
“Why, I can smile,
And murder while I smile”
…Henry VI, Part Three
Act III, Scene ii
“O murderous slumber!”
Act IV, Scene iii
“O true apothecary!
Thy drugs are quick”
…Romeo and Juliet
Act V, Scene iii
Numerous times Moylan’s opinion mentioned Kim’s inability to keep her mouth shut:
“A number of Kimberly’s close friends were also fully apprised of growing discord.”
“Again incautiously, she could not contain the fact that she ‘was having an affair with Brad’ …”
“Without warning, she blurted out that she wanted him to kill her husband.”
“So did Kimberly’s apparent compulsion to share her budding mens rea with anyone who would listen.”
Judge Moylan provided a point-by-point rebuttal to the defense’s explanations about what happened. He didn’t buy any of it. “Did Kimberly’s attempted explanation become part of the proof of her guilt? It most assuredly did.”
Her lies piled up to the point that Judge Moylan stated, “In instance after instance, Kimberly’s attempted explanations simply generated greater and greater disbelief.”
His opinion ended with: “We hereby affirm the convictions for a crime that can only be described as ‘twas once described by the ghost of Old King Hamlet:
“Murder most foul,
But this, most foul, strange, and unnatural.”
The case spawned a slew of low-budget cable TV documentaries, true crime stories, blogs, and podcasts, most of which leave a lot to be desired as far as getting the facts straight. None come close to Rosencrance’s book for accuracy and completeness.
From prison, Kim has written essays about prison life, whining about privileges. In one published in the Washington Post in August 2016, she complained about rules changes that no longer allowed her to hold her granddaughter during a visit from her daughter. She wrote: “I understand that most people have little sympathy for prisoners. We committed crimes. We have been convicted and are receiving the punishment we deserve. But we are still women. We are still mothers. Let us hold our children and grandchildren. They have committed no crime.”
And in July 2016, her article on Vice.com complained about the rules concerning mail—what’s allowed and what’s not. Her snarky comments—following a reasonable explanation for the rules—were meant to be sarcastic but, considering her circumstances and history, are hard to accept.
In the article she complained that prison censors cut a ribbon bookmark out of a Bible someone sent her (“There’ll be no six-inch pieces of fabric running amok on this compound!” she wrote) and did not allow her to receive a copy of Games of Thrones because, as she wrote, “it contained maps. Maps are contraband. I guess I won’t be escaping to Westeros!”
Neither of her essays acknowledges that Steve can’t hold his granddaughter or read Games of Thrones, either, because Kim killed him and burned him beyond recognition so she could run off with her new boyfriend.
In my interview with her, Rosencrance added a pathetic ending to the story. Reflecting on Kim’s motive—to get away from Steve and live happily ever after with Brad Winkler—Rosencrance noted that after she was arrested, “Brad wanted nothing to do with her.”
Kim’s cause has been taken up by her roommate from college, Esther Goetz, who describes herself as “a wife, mom, daughter, women’s group leader, sister, marriage mentor, friend, speaker, and lover of Jesus” on her blog “The Dolly Mama.” Her blog is about, coincidentally, redemption. Goetz had lost contact with Kim for many years, but she reconnected about three years ago and stays in touch with Kim.
I interviewed Esther over the phone because she writes that Kim “admitted that she did” kill Steven. She pointed me to one of her blog posts that contains a letter she received from Kim in prison, in which Kim described working with a “psychological expert” who “helped me speak out loud not only what I did the night of my crime, but how I got to the point where I believed that killing my husband was the only answer.”
I have written to Kim at the Maryland Correctional Institution at Jessup requesting an interview and offering her the chance to tell her story. If she consents to be interviewed, I’ll file a follow-up story here in “The Laurel Chronicles.”
November 5, 2020
Many of the ingredients of the turbulent 1960s—political infighting, student protests, community uproar, academic chaos—were present in Laurel in 1913. The only principal Laurel High School ever had since opening in 1899, Professor Roger I. Manning, was notified in June 1913 by the Prince George’s County School Board that “his services will not be needed for the next scholastic year,” according to the Laurel Leader. The reason for his dismissal was never made clear.
The brand-new Laurel High School opened in the Fall of 1899 “against determined opposition in the lower part of the county” with locating the first high school in Prince George’s County in Laurel, according to the Baltimore Sun. The initial school year employed two teachers (one male, one female) overseeing 61 students, as listed in the 1900 Annual Report of the Commission of Education, U.S. Department of the Interior. The Sun gushed that the school was a modern building “supplied with electric lights” and contained five classrooms, an assembly room on the second floor, and “two large playrooms in the basement,” presumably for PE classes.
Manning’s 14 years as principal saw slow growth at the school. His annual salary started at $800 in 1899 and his assistant, Miss Eliza G. Cronmiller, was paid $600. The first class of 1900 had five graduates, all women. By 1913, he was paid $1,200 and ten students graduated in the class of 1913, eight women and two men.
The news that Manning was appealing his dismissal to the State Board of Education produced an uproar in the community, as reported in the Leader. The Sun took a more professional, distanced approach in its reporting. “Mr. Manning contends the county board had no authority to dismiss him,” reported the Sun. In contrast, the Leader editorialized, “why he should persist in trying to fasten himself upon the people here is more than we can understand.”
Speculation ran rampant in town as to a replacement. Sometimes the Leader listed the men (all men, of course) who submitted applications. How they knew this is a mystery. But the Leader was unimpressed in the quality of the applicants, saying that no one “would even think of some of the persons we have heard mentioned in this connection, and we hope for the sake of the school that nothing ridiculous will be sprung upon our people.”
Trying to move past the controversy, the PG County School Board hired Professor Kirtley J. Morris in July to replace Manning, beginning with the Fall 1913 semester. Morris was formerly the Superintendent of Schools in Covington, Kentucky.
The hiring of Morris was celebrated in the Leader, which was still unclear why Manning was fired. “Whether it be a fact or not, the people have long felt that the High School here was not what it should be, and many persons gave as a reason for not sending their children to the school, that it was not up to the standard, and rather than have their children attend a school which was not all they had a right to expect in it, they sent them to schools elsewhere.” (Sure, that explains it.)
But just a month after hiring Morris, the brief calm was shattered, and the uproar reignited in town. “Manning Wins Appeal” was the headline in the Leader. “The State Board of Education, with Governor Goldsborough presiding, overruled the action of the [PG] Board of School Commissioners for this county in removing Roger I. Manning.” The articled nudged closer to the reasons for the firing. “Several allegations tending to show that Mr. Manning was inefficient to hold the position were made by the [PG] School Commissioners and County Superintendent Sasscer, but only one of the grounds was held to be sufficient to support the action taken against Mr. Manning. This was the charge of poor administrative and executive ability, causing a lack of harmony with the teachers.”
The result was that Manning was ordered reinstated, which led to another scathing rebuke in the Leader: “This decision means that Mr. Manning will return to our High School, unless charges are filed against him and sustained by the [PG] County School Commissioners, or unless Mr. Manning realizes, as he should, that the people of Laurel—while having nothing against him as a man—do not want him as a principal and he voluntarily resigns, which would be a rather happy solution for all parties concerned.”
The fight was far from over. Taking a page from Manning’s appeal—although in reverse—the PG County School Board declared that the State Board of Education had no authority over their decision and ordered vice principal Miss Margaret Edmondson to take charge when Laurel High School opened in September 1913. Prof. Morris, who was hired as Manning’s replacement, and who by now had to wonder why he left Kentucky in the first place, was assigned as a teacher at Laurel. Both moves with Edmondson and Morris were intended to be temporary until things were sorted out.
Not willing to wait for the county and the state to settle their spat, Manning’s attorney, Ogle Marbury, filed suit in the Maryland Circuit Court in October 1913 for a writ of injunction against PG County “to restrain them from interfering with Mr. Manning’s taking charge of the school,” reported the Leader. The paper’s viewpoint, in case they had been too subtle, was reinforced: “No matter what the decision may be, the people had decided there has been ‘too much Manning.’”
Once again, things calmed down for a while. The Sun reported that at some point during the school year, Morris had taken over from Edmondson as Acting Principal. But, once again, the calm was shattered with an announcement and tongues around town where wagging again.
In mid-March 1914, with only a few months left in the school year, the Court of Appeals of Maryland decided that Manning was “improperly dismissed by the [PG] County School Commissioners, and it is up to the said Board to re-instate Mr. Manning, which means that he will receive salary for the whole year.” That meant the county had to pay two principals for the entire school year, Manning and Morris. The Sun’s coverage also (correctly) predicted trouble ahead: “Since Mr. Morris took charge, however, the new head of the school has become extremely popular with the students and teachers, and these, it is said, have planned to walk out when Principal Manning returns.” The Leader, however, took more of a doomsday attitude toward a rumored walkout by students: “That sort of thing will not do—not even in Laurel—for it logically leads to anarchy.” (Not even in Laurel?)
On March 31, in accordance with the decision by the Court of Appeals, Manning returned as principal at Laurel High School. It was not a joyful return. Manning arrived very early and avoided any confrontations outside. A crowd of about 100, including many pupils, assembled in front of the school. “As the teachers entered the school grounds they were cheered by the striking pupils, while the children who entered the school were hissed,” according to the Sun. As rumored, when classes began that morning, fully half the approximately 100-member student body was absent. “A number of parents have declared that they will keep their children away for the remainder of the school term rather than let them go back under Mr. Manning.”
There were no reports about the next few weeks and whether or not some parents relented and returned their children to school, but three weeks after the walkout, the PG County School Board once again took matters into their own hands. The Board ignored the Court of Appeals and ordered “that notice be given to Roger I. Manning, principal of the Laurel High School that his services as teacher of the said school and as principal will not be required after the 18th day of May, 1914.” (Isn’t this how the whole thing started?)
The State Board of Education was not about to let this second attempt to subvert their authority go unpunished. Immediately after passing an order condemning the “insubordination on the part of the pupils of the Laurel High School towards the legally constituted authorities” for the walkout, they called on the big guns of the Governor. “Unless the School Commissioners of Prince George’s County revoke their order dismissing Prof. Roger I. Manning, principal of the high school, it is understood that Governor Goldsborough will prefer charges against them and attempt to have them removed from office.” Even though nobody wanted Manning to stay, the State Board was saying WE can fire him, but you can’t.
PG County revoked their order and Manning finished the school year as principal, whereupon he promptly resigned. In August, the Washington Star reported that Herbert F. Mitchell had been hired as Laurel High School’s new principal for the 1914-15 school year. He came to Laurel from the Public Health Bureau in Philadelphia, where he was a statistician accountant.
What happened to the beleaguered Professor Morris, Manning’s supposed replacement? His consolation prize was being appointed the principal at the new Hyattsville High School. It’s a fair assumption he didn’t mind the transfer.
So what was all this really about? If Manning was “inefficient” or showed “poor administrative and executive ability,” why did it take 14 years as principal for these allegations to surface? If there were other reasons, they are lost to time. And in the chaos caused by the ridiculous back-and-forth posturing between the State and County School Boards, the needs of the students and their lost school year was never mentioned. The story shows that the combination of political infighting, student protests, community uproar, and academic chaos were not unique to the 1960s.
October 1, 2020
History Crumbs, Vol 1.
These short bits of history tend to pile up as I do more research on various topics. Unless otherwise credited, all quotes are from the Laurel Leader.
In May, the new city of Laurel imposed its first fines on citizens. Both fines were $2. R.F. Redmiles was charged with breach of the peace and Henry Marshall permitted his hogs to run at large.
In January, the Leader published “Her Ten Commandments.”
These are the new commandments ten,
Which wives now make for married men:
1. Remember that I am thy wife,
Whom thou must cherish all my life.
2. Thou shalt not stay out late at night,
When lodges, friends, or clubs invite.
3. Thou shalt not smoke indoors or out,
Or chew tobacco round about.
4. Thou shall with praise receive my pies,
Nor pastry made by me despise.
5. My mother thou shall strive to please,
And let her live with us in ease.
6. Remember tis thy duty clear,
To dress me well throughout the year.
7. Thou shalt in manner mild and meek,
Give me thy wages every week.
8. Thou shalt not be a drinking man,
But live on prohibition plan.
9. Thou shalt not flirt, but must allow
Thy wife such freedom, any how.
10. Thou shalt get up when baby cries,
And try thy child to tranquilize.
These my commandments, from day to day,
Implicitly thou shalt obey.
The first high school in Prince George’s County, the old Laurel High School on Montgomery Street, held its first commencement. The five graduates were all women: Laura Bentley, Annie Carroll, Emma Flester, Anna Hill, and Eve Phelps.
In June, an advice column that briefly ran in the Leader published this touching exchange:
Dear Sir, Will you please inform me, through the column of your paper, how a young lady can get rid of a persistent and tiresome caller without openly telling him so. (Signed) M.G.E.
Answer—You are in a bad fix, the only suggestions that we could offer are the following—First, plead other engagements. Next is to act natural, so horribly natural that anybody but a born idiot would take the hint. That failing, try palming him off on your family. Then give away his flowers and insist upon your small brother gobbling up his chocolate creams under his very nose. Next, abuse him. Then make appointments with him and take pains not to keep them. Give his dances to someone else. Shut yourself up in your room and refuse to see him and the desired result is generally accomplished, even where all other methods have failed. If he still comes, you can either ask your father to hit him on the head with an ax or you can ask him why he doesn’t get married, so he will have some place to spend his evenings. Then he will either propose or quit. If he proposes, you can refuse him, and he is sure to come no more—at least for a while.
In May, “the first military funeral in this neighborhood” was held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church for “the first of our boys in this vicinity to die in the line of duty.” The deceased was Vincent Beall of Jessup, who was burned to death at Fort Omaha when an observation balloon exploded and set a building on fire. “Arrangements were made to inter the remains at Laurel in order to give him a military funeral, which was easier, owing to the proximity of Camp Laurel.”
The Leader published this ad:
In November, the Leader editorialized,
“Where do we go tonight?” remarks the modern sophisticated girl when the young man comes around to call. The good old days when the girls entertained the boys by sitting in the parlor and turning over the family photograph album or playing duets on the piano are no more.
That was a good cheap way of paying attention, but the modern young woman demands that the young man spend something more than the evening. Which is hard on impecunious youth.
And the expense of showing attention to the girls, particularly in cities of considerable size, constantly increases. Formerly it was considered enough to take a girl to some show, but now she often expects that her hungry voids shall be filled by a late supper afterwards. But if the boys did not spend the money on these girls, they might spend it on themselves in ways not preferable.
In November, the Laurel Elementary School PTA sponsored a play titled “Aunt Lucia” that featured a cast of 150 local residents. The play, described as “a burlesque comedy of American college life,” featured numerous prominent Laurel businessmen in roles as women. The Leader claimed the play “has numerous hilarious comedy spots.”
In October, the Leader published a Navy recruitment cartoon featuring Popeye:
In August, Laurel resident Harry R. Hubbard, 48, was sentenced to four years in a Federal penitentiary for posing as an Army officer, falsely wearing Army insignia and medals, and obtaining money by false pretenses. Hubbard, who had been a sergeant in the Army during World War I, posed as an Army colonel and fooled the whole town. When returning to Laurel from his day job as a carpenter on War Department projects, he would slip in his back door and then walk through town in an Army colonel uniform. In court, prosecutors told his story. After the bombing at Pearl Harbor, Hubbard disappeared for a few weeks and, upon returning to Laurel, told people he had been sent to Hawaii to investigate. Hubbard’s pretense so completely fooled the town that Laurel Police Chief Edward Brown had a police siren installed on his car, which, somehow, sported Army license plates. Laurel Dr. Edwin Bernstein gave Hubbard $45 while he posed as a colonel. Future Mayor Harry Hardingham, then the owner of a gas station in Laurel, told the court “He seemed like a regular army man. He never bragged about what he had done, though he always had a ready answer to questions.” His story aroused suspicion when he claimed he was flying Army bombers to and from Fort Meade. After his sentencing, Hubbard told the court he “always wanted to be somebody.”
In June, the St. Louis Cardinals conducted a two-day tryout camp in Laurel. “All those who plan on taking advantage of this splendid opportunity to see if they are qualified for professional baseball are reminded to bring their own gloves, uniform and shoes.”
In April, Laurel Police received complaints about a resident who was “practicing hypnotism on children.” Police urged parents “to caution their children against allowing this man to hypnotize them.”
In February, Master Sergeant Earl W. Sherman, who lived on Main Street in Laurel, was declared dead by the Defense Department after being missing in action in Korea since July 1950. Sherman had also been reported as missing in action during World War II when he was captured and held by the Germans for nine months. Between the wars, he was stationed at Fort Meade.
In August, the Laurel Junior-Senior Teen Club held a “Beachcomber” party, consisting of a dance at Laurel High School and then a swim party at the Laurel pool. Teens were encouraged to “dress as you would imagine one would look after living on a desert island.”
In February, divers working in 30 feet of icy water in the Rocky Gorge Reservoir found the lost boundary markers between Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Observing the operation was President Merl Myers and Vice President Thomas Burton, Jr., from the Patuxent Old Line Organization. “This is the organization which was formed several years ago by residents of the Brooklyn Bridge Road area when they were threatened with being shifted from Prince George’s County to Montgomery County.” The 8-foot stone boundary marker disappeared in 1954 when the area was flooded to form the Rocky Gorge Reservoir. The discovery of the marker meant that the existing boundary lines were correct.
In August, the Mayor’s Civic Center Committee presented their recommendations to the City Council. Mayor Merrill Harrison appointed members to the committee five months earlier to explore the feasibility of building a municipal civic center in Laurel. The committee recommended that the 18-acre site where the Avondale Mill was located be used to build such a facility, which would allow the municipal offices to move from Montgomery Street, with the remainder of the proposed civic center to house a convention hall with multiple meeting rooms and kitchens. There was no mention in the News Leader if the Avondale Mill was to be torn down or left as is. Obviously, the plans never came to fruition.
In August, a mother of four children was arrested by Laurel Police at her townhouse in Milestone Manor for interfering with the duties of a police officer. When police arrived to arrest her husband on a morals charge for “carnal knowledge with a juvenile girl who resided in the development,” he jumped from the second floor balcony and ran up the creek next to the railroad tracks. To give her husband time to escape, the wife started fighting with police at the front door while he escaped from the balcony. Laurel Police “then took his wife, who they said was biting, screaming, and scratching, into custody.”
In February, Laurel native and Marine Sgt. Karl Taylor was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon. In Vietnam, Taylor charged an enemy machine gun bunker with a grenade launcher to allow his rifle company to rescue wounded Marines. He took out the machine gun before being killed by enemy fire. He was the second Laurel resident to win the Medal of Honor, after Capt. George Albee in 1894.
A proposal to construct a sports complex to house both the Baltimore Orioles and Colts, in Howard County north of Laurel, was unveiled in 1979. Megaplex, the development company, claimed to have a contract on 500 acres between Route 1 and I-95, and Route 175 and Meadowridge Road. Jumping into the fray, Prince Georges County Executive Larry Hogan, in a letter to Edward Bennett Williams, the new owner of the Orioles, then suggested building a “superdome” in the Laurel area, just off I-95, for the Orioles. Neither idea ever panned out.
In August, pilot Gary Hankins crashed his home-built experimental ultralight plane into the roof of a house off Brock Bridge Road in Maryland City. Hankins had just taken off from Suburban Airport and was heading north when residents of the Parkway Mobile Home Park told the News Leader they “heard it sputtering” just before the crash. After firefighters secured the plane and the roof, they rescued the semi-conscious pilot from the wreckage.
In June, professional soccer player Mia Hamm made an appearance at the Supplee Lane soccer fields at a camp sponsored by her Washington Freedom team.
1919 Mass Murder in Laurel
I’m often asked where the ideas for these columns come from, and the answer is everywhere. Many times as I research one story, other stories pop up and lead to columns. But some of the most memorable columns originated from people contacting me. This story has three significant examples of that.
Significant Contact #1: I received an e-mail from Lindsey Baker, the Executive Director of the Laurel Historical Society, asking if I was interested in talking to a woman from Oregon who visited the Laurel Museum looking for information about a murder in Laurel back in 1919. Her great-grandmother was one of the people murdered. This was right up my alley. Of course I was interested.
Significant Contact #2: So Lindsey put me in touch with Kathy Baldwin, who had since returned home to Oregon. That started about a six-month collaboration between us. Kathy was determined to see this story told, and she interviewed many family members from across the country. Eventually she wrote a family history to provide me with all the details from these interviews. She also sent some great family photos.
I did my own research and found much information to fill in the blanks from Kathy’s input. As I pondered how to write the story, Significant Contact #3 happened. My fellow Laurel History Boy, Richard Friend, told me that he was e-mailed some photos that appeared to be crime scene photos from this story. I assumed that Kathy had inadvertently sent them to Rich instead of me, but no matter. I was excited that we had them.
But as we investigated, it turned out that the photos of the bodies of Alice Allen and Annie Sloates were sent by someone with absolutely no connection to the story or the Allen family. I’m researching a 100-year-old murder and these photos appeared out of the blue!
It turned out that West Laurel resident Holly Maxwell was cleaning out her late mother’s possessions and came across the photos. A friend of hers recommended she contact The Laurel History Boys about them. The timing of this was bizarre.
We had Holly meet up with Melanie McKnight, an Allen family descendant and a local Remax realtor, for lunch at the diner. It was a fascinating chat, but we’re still not sure how Holly’s mother came into possession of the photos—but I’m very thankful they surfaced when they did. The photos are included below.
Here is the link to the story in the Laurel Leader. Come back when you’re finished reading!
History of the Laurel Theater
Like everyone else who grew up in Laurel during the 1960s and 70s, I spent a lot of time at the Laurel Theater on Main Street. Those were the days when we would sit through two showings and hope the usher didn’t kick us out (which they never did). For me, the theater took on a personal note when the Petrucci family bought the theater and turned it into a dinner theater (Jo Petrucci is my sister-in-law.)
But, as I found out, the history of the building revealed that the theater had been one of the town’s most important landmarks to the citizens of Laurel for decades.
I interviewed some very helpful people, including Robert Headley, who wrote a book titled Motion Picture Exhibition in Washington, D.C. His book was invaluable in researching the original Red Wing Theater as well as the Laurel Theater. It turns out that Driver is a retired professor from the University of Maryland and still lives in the area. He graciously invited Rich and I to his house and talked for an entire afternoon with us.
An unexpected source was George Prior, a classmate of mine at Laurel High School (Class of 1972). Even though I’d known George very well for a long time, I never knew his father managed the theater for years. I met up with George and Mark O’Dell, another LHS alumnus who worked for George’s father while he was in high school, and listened to their stories.
I talked to Thom Jarrell, who worked for years for the Petrucci family in a variety of jobs. Thom had lots of stories about the building, including the story of the ghost he saw. And, of course, my sister-in-law Jo provided a wealth of information and photos about the building.
As I was finishing my research for the story, the Laurel History Boys were contacted by Blaine Sutton, from SORTO Contracting Company. SORTO had been awarded the contract to demolish the building and Blaine wondered if we would be interested in checking it out one last time. Would we? As we picked our way through the debris littering the interior of the dilapidated theater, it was both fascinating and sad. Through my research I had acquired an appreciation for what the theater had meant to the town during its heyday, but on that last inspection all we saw was a building falling apart at the seams. The saddest sight of all was the old movie screen hanging in tatters. How many movies were projected onto that screen, starting with silent movies in the 1920s?
Here are the links to the story in the Laurel Leader. Come back when you’re finished reading!
Summer of Love Music Festivals: Woodstock, Altamont, and Laurel?
In July 1969, Laurel hosted a two-day pop festival at the race course, attended by 15,000 fans, that offered an incredible lineup of some of the biggest pop performers of the year, and ended in controversy. Three of the acts went on to play Woodstock the next month, and a fourth was scheduled, but they broke up right after the Laurel Pop Festival. In fact, seven performers or groups who played at Laurel are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and two have received the Kennedy Center Honors.
The second night of the festival started late because of rain and as the night wore on, the soaked fans built a bonfire out of some wooden folding chairs to ward off the cold. The media reported that a “riot” closed down the festival and future plans to continue in Laurel were scrapped.
These two were very early arrivals. The race track is in the background. These are the wooden chairs that were burned.
Local media, especially the Baltimore Sun, ran numerous articles reporting on the progress of the festival. Source: Baltimore Sun and Laurel News Leader.
The first night was kicked off by blues guitarist Buddy Guy, a Hall of Fame and Kennedy Center Honoree.
He was followed by the gospel group the Edwin Hawkins Singers, who were enjoying huge success with their single “Oh, Happy Day.”
The next act was Al Kooper, the ex-lead singer of Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Jethro Tull, whose first album “Stand Up,” released a few months earlier, was the number 1 album in the UK, was next.
They were followed by Johnny Winter, who would also perform the next month at Woodstock.
Finishing the first night’s set was the headliner, Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin was in the midst of their first world-wide tour, and had been the opening act for The Who a month earlier at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Led Zeppelin, a Hall of Fame group, was also a Kennedy Center Honoree.
Led Zeppelin’s official web site has a page devoted to their performance at the Laurel Pop Festival.
The power cut off Led Zeppelin in mid-song but Robert Plant kept singing until the power was restored.
Fans on the second night had to wait out a rain delay. At 10:00 p.m., the Jeff Beck Group, with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, took the stage. The Jeff Beck Group was on their fifth U.S. tour and scheduled to play at Woodstock, but the band broke up shortly after their performance at Laurel and cancelled. The Jeff Beck Group, Stewart, and Wood are all in the Hall of Fame.
The next act was Ten Years After, another Woodstock performer.
They were followed by The Guess Who, riding a huge popularity wave with their #1 single, “These Eyes.”
Next up was the Mothers of Invention with Frank Zappa, another Hall of Famer. The Washington Post’s review of the festival said “Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention kept their freak show to a minimum (which is still hilarious) and concentrated on music-making that combines great rock, classical influences, jazz brass, and 12-tone dynamics into beautiful sound.”
Sly and the Family Stone, another Hall of Fame group and Woodstock performer, took the stage and brought the house down. They started their set at 2 a.m. and had people up dancing. But things went downhill as Sly’s performance continued. The bonfires were started on the infield, and promoters issued several warnings to the crowd, to no avail.
Because of the commotion on the infield and the rain delay, the Savoy Brown Band did not perform.
Bruce Remer, who hosts the web site BR’s Classic Rock Photos was a high school student attending the Laurel Pop Festival. There are stories on his web site from attendees describing how they wandered backstage, with no security in sight, and mingled with the performers. Remer and his friend Tom Beech snapped away with Kodak Instamatics backstage.
Here is the link to the story in the Laurel Leader. Come back when you’re finished reading!
Laurel’s Forgotten Role in the Bonus Army
I spend a lot of time doing historical research for clients at the National Archives. Sometimes I use students as research assistants, including my sons. That was the situation early in 2014, when my son Jeff was helping me with a project that had no connection to my History Matters column.
Jeff found a reference to Laurel in an index of Universal newsreels that date back to the 1920s. The reference concerned the Bonus Army of 1932. Coincidentally, I had recently read the excellent book “The Bonus Army” by Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen, so I was well acquainted with the topic but amazed that Laurel had played a role. Laurel was not mentioned in the book.
The shameful story began in 1924 when World War I veterans were promised a service bonus, most of which were to be paid 21 years later in 1945! Once the Great Depression hit, thousands of destitute and homeless veterans marched on Washington to demand the promised bonus for their service to the country. President Herbert Hoover, aided by J. Edgar Hoover, smeared the veterans’ cause by claiming it was organized by Communists.
When that classy (and untrue) move didn’t deter the veterans, President Hoover then called out the military, led by Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur and then-Major George Patton. The unarmed U.S. Army veterans were pushed by horses, bayonets, and tear gas back on Pennsylvania Ave over the 11th St. Bridge to their cardboard and ramshackle dwellings, which were burned to the ground under MacArthur’s orders.
Most of the veterans went home after that, but many wanted to stay and push for the cause. A woman from Catonsville offered them her land near Laurel to establish a permanent camp. The story reveals what happened next.
This video, from a 1932 Universal newsreel, shows veterans leaving Washington, DC and arriving at the Laurel camp, which was still being organized. Source: National Archives and Records Administration.
This video, also from a Universal newsreel, has footage of MacArthur’s troops and Patton’s tanks pushing the veterans down Pennsylvania Ave. It also shows the U.S. Army using tear gas on the unarmed WWI veterans, and their camp being burned down under MacArthur’s orders. Source: National Archives and Records Administration.
This video has more footage of the Bonus Army in Washington and then the veterans fleeing the tear gas fired by the military. Source: National Archives and Records Administration.
Here is the link to the story in the Laurel Leader. Come back when you’re finished reading!
Laurel’s Billy the Kid
I came across a Baltimore Sun article from 1911 that was an extraordinarily detailed account of a failed bank robbery in Laurel. Just writing about someone trying to rob the Citizen’s National Bank on Main Street in 1911 would have been fun, but the details in the Sun made it an irresistible story to me. The story contained many Laurel characters of the day (some of whom I’d heard of), as well as an interesting twist as to who the bank robber actually was.
My son, Jeff, served as my research assistant and photographer for this one. We interviewed Bernie Robinson, the current manager of the bank (now PNC Bank), who gave us an extended tour of the bank, especially the original structure from 1890 that is completely absorbed into today’s bank. We also talked to Jim McCeney, Ken Skrivseth, and Karen Lubieniecki, downtown residents who provided valuable information on the neighborhood where the robber fled. When Ken showed us the alley that runs between Main and Prince George Streets, the Kid’s path while running for his life became obvious.
Here is the link to the story in the Laurel Leader:
A nice epilogue to the story was written by Prince George’s County Circuit Judge C. Philip Nichols Jr., a Laurel native, who followed the story with great interest. Nichols did some research to find out what happened to the Kid. Here’s his contribution:
Investigation Files of the George Wallace Shooting
After filing a Freedom of Information Act request, I waited over a year for the National Archives to release the FBI’s files concerning the attempted assassination of Presidential candidate Alabama Governor George Wallace at the Laurel Shopping Center in May, 1972. I was curious if the files would contain anything that hadn’t already been reported many times over the years. I’m still waiting.
So I went to Plan B and contacted the Prince George’s County Police Department to see if they had any files. To my delight I was put in contact with Lt. Shawné Waddy, Assistant Commander of the PG Police Records Management Division, who was outstanding in supporting my request. Together with Technican Justin Blalock, they provided enough files and photos to fill a Xerox box.
Like everyone else in Laurel I followed the coverage of the shooting and the subsequent trial closely, as well as all the articles over the years since. But I was amazed at how much information was contained in the files that was new to me. It took me a few weeks to go through all of the interviews with eyewitnesses, police, Secret Service agents, and medical personnel, along with investigation reports and photos. Owing to the quantity of information in the investigative files, this was the longest “History Matters” I’ve written, and one of the most widely read. The article appeared in the Laurel Leader on July 9, 2015.
Here is the link to the story in the Laurel Leader. Come back when you’re finished reading!
The one Laurel landmark that seems to generate the most interest is the long-ago demolished Laurel Sanitarium. There’s much information on the Internet about it, but as my research discovered, a whole lot of myths and tall tales passing for truth. The true story of the sanitarium is so bizarre it doesn’t need embellishment. The column ran in the Laurel Leader on July 10, 2014.
Again, here is the link to the story in the Laurel Leader. Come back when you’re finished reading!