On a winter evening, Chrissy Grant watched her twin, Kathy, disappear into the shadows down Furnace Branch Road on her way to a friend's house a few miles away.
Her parting advice to her sister was brief: "Be careful and accept no rides."
That was Jan. 9, 1989, and Kathy, 15, never arrived at her friend's apartment on Americana Circle near Marley Station Mall.
Twenty days later, she was found bludgeoned to death in a wooded area off West Pasadena Road. Investigators believe Kathy, who had been sexually assaulted, knew her killers.
But her whereabouts between the day she was last seen and Jan. 29, when her body was discovered, continue to baffle police investigators more than two years later.
"I wish I could trace her steps of two weeks before," says county police Sgt.Thomas A. Suit. "Because that's the key."
Autopsy reports show that although Kathy had been missing for nearly three weeks before her body was found, she probably was killed on Jan. 26.
Although Kathy was a chronic runaway, she always called her sister, Chrissy, to let her know she was all right. But this time, Kathy never called her Pasadena home.
The friend Kathy had intended to visit on Americana Circle never saw her, although witnesses thought they saw the girl in the Earleigh Heights Tavern in Severna Park the night police believe she was killed. They told investigators she left around midnight.
Another friend told police that Kathy called her sometime in mid-January, saying she was staying at an apartment on Americana Circle and that she was considering marrying a man she had been close to.
But no one else came forward with information about Kathy, so Suit and county police Sgt. Ron Bateman concentrated on the crime scene, lookingfor evidence they may have missed the first time.
Kathy's naked body was found sprawled next to an old cement building by someone walking through the woods. The area is used as an illegal dumping ground and a party spot for teen-agers, making it difficult for investigators to tell if anything left behind was used by the killers or belongedto them.
Near her body, police recovered the sweater Kathy had been wearing. Inside the building, lying on a trash heap, they found a red T-shirt with white lettering that read: "Kroeger Electric Company."
Tire tracks stopped about 60 feet from the body, but there was no evidence of the girl's body being dragged into the area. The tire tracks and the shirt didn't reveal anything to police.
Even two years later, a blood stain remains on the side of the building where Kathy's body was found. Experts examined the blood and determined that it probably was splattered on the wall when she was hit in the head.
When Kathy's body was found, Bateman had no idea who she was and had to begin the tedious task of searching missing persons reports filed in the state. Piles of reports covered his office desk in the Criminal Investigation Division building in Crownsville.
Many phone calls and reports later, he came to Kathy Grant, a 15-year-old runaway whose father reported her missing on Jan. 19.
Carrying pictures ofthe murdered girl, Bateman went to the Grant's Vernon Avenue home, about 8 miles from where her body was found. He didn't know the dead girl had a twin.
"When I saw Chrissy," Bateman said. "I was sure. It was her teeth."
Although the detectives are still putting the pieces together, Bateman offered this theory:
After leaving the Earleigh Heights Tavern on Thursday, Jan. 26, Kathy went willingly with her killers to the wooded party spot. Once there, the assailants triedto force her to do something against her will. Knowing Kathy's nature, Bateman believes she she began to fight with her attackers.
"I think the murder was intentional but not planned for a long period oftime. When the opportunity presented itself, it was taken up," Bateman said.
One of the attackers began beating her with a rock, a tool or some other heavy object, hitting her in the head hard enough to splatter blood on the side of the building. If she screamed, there was no one to hear her. At some point, Kathy was sexually assaulted.
The motive, Bateman believes, may be jealousy.
"She was a very independent girl," he says. "And that angered her (killers.)"
To prove that theory, he needs the answer to these questions: Where did Kathy stay from Jan. 9 to 26? And if she was near a phone and called a friend, why didn't she call her sister as she normally did? Did her assailants intercept her on her way to Americana Circle and hold her captive for those last days? And what type of weapon was used to kill her?
Both Bateman and Suit doubt she was held against her will. Shehad shaved her legs and under her arms recently before she died. Andher last meal, eggs, was still in her stomach, the autopsy showed.
"So it's not like she was outside the entire time," Suit says.
Meanwhile, the same troubling questions remain with her family. In theGrant's small living room, Kathy's picture still sits on the coffee table next to the couch.
Recently, her father, Charles Grant, sat silently, smoking and listening to his wife, Sandra, and daughter, Chrissy, reminiscence about Kathy.
"Kathleen," Chrissy said, hung out with an older crowd, people she described as "breaking-bad," or tough.
Chrissy recalls a scene in downtown Baltimore when the twins were about 12.
Both girls were walking in the city when they found themselves confronted by a group of girls. An argument started and Kathy took control of the situation.
"My sister, she was so smart and had a smart mouth," Chrissy says. "And she punched this girl in thestomach."
Kathy, Chrissy said, "could hold her own."
Like the detectives, Chrissy believes Kathy fought with her killers.
"If they were doing something she didn't like, she would go for the privates first and then scratch and kick. She stuck up for herself," she said.
Kathy was a tomboy, Chrissy explained, and heavier than her twin. But the differences stopped there. In elementary school, the two girls often switched places in different classes to help each other improve their grades.
"She would go to gym for me and I would go to music for her," Chrissy says. "Most of the time, the teachers could never tell."
For Kathy's parents, the last two years have been on-going ordeal of learning to deal with with their grief.
Sandra Grant explained that because murder is the most severe of crimes, forbidden by God, it carries a stigma -- people don't know what to say or how to react.
"I barely remember the first two or three weeks after it," Sandra Grant said. "I remember seeing the police pictures of hermutilated body. The horror of those pictures blocked it out. I've already been told that I may never remember."
And those pictures, plus transcripts of interviews with relatives, friends and suspects, are all neatly bound and protected in nine loose-leaf note books and envelopes labeled by police: "Grant, Kathy 89-17551."
Last week, Suit opened the files. Sitting behind his desk, he began reading. Both he and Bateman hope anyone who saw Kathy between Jan. 9 and 29 will come forward and offer an additional detail that would help them close the case.
Police continue to watch at least two suspects they cannot yet link to Kathy's murder.
"Let's just say we are keeping themon a short leash," Suit said.
Anyone with information should callthe detectives at 222-3456.