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Police canvass Roland Park neighborhood where space policy researcher was stabbed to death

Police were out canvassing the Roland Park neighborhood where a woman was fatally stabbed.

Baltimore detectives and police academy cadets interviewed residents and looked for physical evidence Monday in the Roland Park neighborhood where 59-year-old Molly K. Macauley was stabbed to death.

Officers picked through a poison ivy-covered hill and searched a yard nearby.

A homicide detective stood in front of a Tudor home shaded by mature trees, near the spot where Macauley was attacked while walking her dogs Friday night. He told a group of cadets wearing blue latex gloves what to look for.

"She had two big dogs with her," the detective told them. "I'm working on the theory of what I think happened," he said, though he didn't elaborate.

Police spokesman Detective Jeremy Silbert said investigators still don't have suspect or know of a motive for the stabbing that rocked the generally safe, quiet neighborhood.

Macauley was found about 11 p.m. in the 600 block of W. University Parkway, around the corner from her home. She was taken to an area hospital, where she died.

Macauley was the vice president for research and a senior fellow with Resources for the Future, a Washington think tank that focuses on the environment and natural resources. Those who knew her professionally said she was well known in the field of space policy. An economist, she advised politicians and others about the economic and environmental implications of space exploration.

Hal Ley Hayek, a neighbor and friend, called the attack "extremely painful." He said neighbors have been comforting each other.

"It's shocking," said Hayek, 54. "We're trying to be with each other in the neighborhood. The police seem to be on top of it, so that's good."

On Monday morning, blood still stained the sidewalk where police say Macauley was stabbed in the neck.

The cadets combed the hill, searching for clues with their eyes and with metal detectors. They peered under bushes and, with flashlights, looked inside metal poles that line the street. A few officers walked into the yard of the home next to where Macauley was stabbed.

Police also interviewed neighbors during the weekend. Neighbors said police have asked those who have video cameras that face out to the street to inspect footage from 9:45 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. Friday for pedestrians, bicyclists or out-of-place vehicles.

On Monday, cadets walked around the block handing out fliers asking anyone with information to contact police. Police are offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of a suspect.

Tom Geyer, a cousin of Macauley's from Baltimore, said the family was in shock and trying to understand how it could have happened.

"She would always talk about [how] she felt that Baltimore was such a special place," Geyer said. "She was somebody who was a very honest and caring individual. She was a brilliant woman and was dedicating her entire life to doing good, not just for Baltimore and the United States, but for the entire world."

Silbert, the police spokesman, said a neighbor found Macauley not long after she was stabbed and called police. Her dogs were found unharmed at the scene.

"We're looking for anything, anything that may have been dropped, anything that may have been left. We're not sure what we're going to find," Silbert said. "One thing that investigators will do, as they do in all homicide cases, is they'll check to see if there are any similarities between this case and any recent crime, not just in this area but across the city."

The last homicide in Roland Park that police could find a record of was in 1998, Silbert said. He said police have conducted similar canvasses in other neighborhoods; he said the attack wasn't being treated differently because it occurred in a wealthy neighborhood.

"This isn't something you see just because of the area it happens," Silbert said. "This is something that, when our investigators feel the need to this type of area canvass, regardless of where that crime occurred, we're going to put the resources in that area because we owe it to the victims, and we owe it to the victim's family to find the person responsible for killing their loved one."

Police recorded 148 homicides in Baltimore through Sunday. Macauley's killing was one of five over the weekend.

The number of homicides is down 6 percent compared to the same time last year. Last July saw a record number of killings — 45. The year ended with the most killings per capita since the city has kept records.

Dorothea Wilson, who works at the Roland Park Place retirement community, said she would continue to walk in the area because she doesn't think there will be more attacks. But she said the community was reeling.

"The community is shocked," she said. "They're not used to living with this, and they don't think this can touch them.

"I think the community right now is hurting because they usually feel safe."

Colleagues said Macauley's death was a tremendous loss for the field of space policy.

"My email over the weekend has been just flooded with people from the space community horrified about what happened," said Michael Moloney, the director for space and aeronautics at the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Macauley "had a quiet wisdom about her that you knew at a meeting when she said something and expressed a view that it was really worth paying attention to," Moloney said. "We all benefited from that tremendously in the work that we do.

"I can't understate how devastated the community is. I'm not the only one who lost sleep over the weekend because of it."

Colleagues said Macauley loved her dogs.

"Every time we talked we always talked about her dogs," said Linda Billings, a consultant to NASA's science programs.

Billings said Macauley was a widow.

Macauley studied the economics and ethics of space exploration. For one project, Billings said, she studied how the microbes humans carry with them might affect the environment on other planets.

She was interested in helping women succeed in the field, and chaired a scholarship committee for the Women in Aerospace organization.

"She was dedicated to her profession and took her work very seriously, and took her work seriously in a positive way," Billings said. "It was never about her belief or ideology. She did her analysis in as objective a way as I could think of."

Marcia S. Smith, the editor of the trade publication spacepolicyonline.com, called Macauley "internationally renowned" and "one of the most prominent space economists" in the world.

"She was highly respected because she was a calm and clear thinking person and always had excellent input," Smith said. "Which is why so many people turned to her for her expertise."

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

cwells@baltsun.com

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