Howard Jackson Bradberry, Jr., 64, of Laurel, was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder in a case that had gone unsolved for nearly four decades.
Bradberry was arrested in May 2021 and faced charges of first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree rape, and kidnapping related to the 1982 disappearance of Laney Lee McGadney, of Columbia.
Police failed to identify a suspect in the case until early 2021, when cold case investigators with the Howard County Police Department revisited evidence in an attempt to find new leads. DNA test results performed on discarded items from the scene linked Bradberry to the crime, police said in a news release.
Bradberry’s attorney Ian Anthony, with the Howard County Public Defender’s Office, declined to comment on the case or sentencing outcome on Thursday.
According to police, on May 29, 1982, McGadney, 28, left her apartment in Columbia to walk to the grocery story in the Owen Brown Village Center. Bystanders along Oakland Mills Road said they saw McGadney, a mother of four, being abducted. Several hours later, she was discovered stabbed to death in a vacant lot, according to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Howard County.
On July 12, 2022, Bradberry entered an Alford plea, in which a defendant maintains their innocence in the face of evidence that would likely lead to a guilty trial verdict. Bradberry was sentenced by Howard County Circuit Court Judge Richard Bernhardt.
“The brutal murder of Laney Lee McGadney fractured her family beyond repair and for 40 years there were very little leads in the case with no one being held responsible for her senseless killing,” said State’s Attorney Rich Gibson in a news release. “I want to thank Howard County police and our prosecutors for working so diligently on this case. We know today’s sentencing cannot bring back the matriarch of this family, but we do hope it provides some much-needed closure for her 4 kids, 22 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren knowing Bradberry will spend the rest of his life in prison for the innocent life he took and heinous crime he committed.”