Hadel was found dead. Police said two children, a 3-year-old and an 11-month-old, were also in the apartment, which Gordon and Hadel shared. Robin Hadel said the children were Ava Gordon, who has been "traumatized," and a boy her daughter was baby-sitting.

Robin Hadel said another girl was at the apartment as well, and Shiflett grabbed her when he entered the apartment.

"Katie heard the scuffle and screamed and he let [the girl] go and grabbed Katie," she said. Police would not comment on the presence of a third child, and said a weapon has not been recovered.

Craig Gordon, Katie Hadel's husband, declined to comment Thursday. Robin Hadel said he was traveling for work and was on the West Coast on Tuesday night, when the killing occurred.

She said the family had been upset by police initially describing the killing as being a domestic incident, because her daughter and Shiflett were not in a relationship — and hadn't been for years. Police knew of Shiflett's obsession with and unrequited love for her daughter, she said.

"It just really bothered me because Katie's happily married, and this is a kid who has kind of stalked her since she was in seventh grade, and just was obsessed with her," Robin Hadel said.

Shiflett is being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center.

Mark Vernarelli, a state corrections spokesman, said the state had done its best to monitor Shiflett after his Dec. 21 release — which the state had no legal choice but to grant. Prisoners' sentences are automatically reduced based on behavior goals in prison — getting a job or attending drug counseling, for instance — which Shiflett had met.

"We are bound by that," said Mark Vernarelli, a state corrections spokesman. "When an inmate has served all of his sentence minus the credits, we have to let them out."

Hadel's killing follows other recent domestic violence deaths in the state, and could be used as new evidence to support legislation proposed in the Maryland General Assembly, according to Tracy Brown, executive director of the Women's Law Center of Maryland. The organization provides legal advice and advocacy for victims of domestic violence.

One bill, filed by Sen. Christopher B. Shank, a Washington County Republican, would expand protections for different types of women who face abusive relationships, whether those relationships have ended or not.

Another bill, filed by Del. Luiz Simmons, a Montgomery County Democrat, would toughen the possible prison sentences for those who commit violent crimes when a minor is present in the same residence — as was the case when Hadel was killed.

Such legislation would help protect more women and children from domestic violence, Brown said, but there is still much to be done.

"The court system provides a lot of safety for victims. There are a lot of batterers who do respond to a court order to stay away from someone," Brown said. "Tragically, sometimes it doesn't work."

Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.

krector@baltsun.com

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