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Indictment announced in 30-year-old Ellicott City murder

Vernon Lee Clark
Vernon Lee Clark(Courtesy Howard County Police)

A man already doing time for three local murders has been indicted by a Howard County grand jury in a case that had remained unsolved for more than 30 years.

Vernon Lee Clark, 59, a prisoner at the Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, is serving three life sentences for murdering three women, including two from Howard County, in the 1980s.

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Thursday, Howard County police announced he's also been indicted in the 1984 murder of Iva Myrtle Watson, of Ellicott City.

Watson's body was found beneath a patch of pine trees across the street from her home in the 5400 block of Montgomery Road on Dec. 30, 1984. The 81-year-old woman had been reported missing the day before.

Police said there were no detailed charging documents available in the indictment, which was passed down March 25 and unsealed April 9. An investigation had led to new information in the Watson case, according to police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn. She said the department could not release any additional details.

Clark's three life sentences stem from a string of other murders that spanned the 1980s.

In 1991, Clark, a lifelong Elkridge resident who worked as an animal skinner at Braun Carroll Co., was charged in the July 4, 1989 sexual assault and shooting death of 23-year-old Elkridge resident Kathleen Patricia Gouldin, who police believe he may have met at Fat Tuesday's nightclub in Baltimore, where she worked as a bar manager, according to a Baltimore Sun story.

Clark was found guilty and sentenced to life plus 28 years in Gouldin's death.

Eight years later, he was charged with the murders of 70-year-old Rebecca H. "Dolly" Davis, who was stabbed to death in 1980, and 68-year-old Evelyn Dieterich, of Catonsville, who was beaten to death in 1981.

Clark did garden work for Davis and was a handyman for Dieterich, police said at the time.

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According to a 1999 article in the Baltimore Sun, police had been investigating Clark in connection with several other murders, including Watson's, at the time he was charged in the deaths of Davis and Dieterich.

In a 1990 interview from prison, Clark maintained his innocence. "If there ever was any trouble in town, the police always came to me," he said at the time, according to a Baltimore Sun story.

The Howard County Police Department has a cold-case unit that continues to investigate unsolved murders and regularly posts information about cold cases on the department's social media accounts. Anyone with information related to an unsolved crime can contact Investigator Nick DeCarlo at 410-313-3324.

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