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Columbia

Laurel man pleads guilty to murder in 40-year-old cold case in Oakland Mills in Columbia

A 64-year-old Laurel man pleaded guilty Tuesday to the 1982 murder of Laney Lee McGadney, whose death became a 40-year-old cold case before the introduction of DNA testing cracked the case.

Howard Jackson Bradberry entered an Alford plea to second-degree murder, a plea in which a defendant maintains innocence but acknowledges that there is enough evidence to convict them. Bradberry faces a maximum sentence of 25 years. His sentencing is scheduled for December.

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McGadney, a 28-year-old mother of four, was kidnapped March 29, 1982, near her Columbia apartment while walking to a grocery store. Witnesses told police at the time that they saw McGadney’s abduction on Oakland Mills Road. Her body was found several hours later in a vacant lot; she had been raped and stabbed to death.

Howard County Police were unable to identify her killer in a lengthy investigation, the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office said. In 2021, cold case detectives revisited McGadney’s case and tested DNA evidence from items discarded at the crime scene. The items linked Bradberry to the crime, the state’s attorney’s office said.

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Police arrested Bradberry in May 2021 at his Laurel home. He was charged with kidnapping, first and second-degree murder and first and second-degree rape. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

“For four decades, no one was held responsible for the brutal and senseless killing of a young woman whose life was cut short by the violent actions of the defendant,” State’s Attorney Rich Gibson said in a statement. “We hope that today’s guilty plea provides some closure to the McGadney family who has had to wait an inordinate amount of time for justice for their loved one.”

Bradberry was represented by the Office of the Public Defender, which did not immediately return a request for comment.


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