Mount Airy man charged with murder in strangling of wife waives bail hearing; Woman's body was found abandoned in car at BWI


A Mount Airy man charged with murdering his wife -- whose body was abandoned in a car at Baltimore-Washington International Airport -- waived a bail hearing yesterday in Frederick County District Court, authorities said.

Donald Wayne Holt, 44, of the 1000 block of Meadowgreen Drive in the Twin Ridge subdivision, was arrested at 7: 45 a.m. Sunday on charges of first- and second-degree murder and manslaughter. He was being held at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center, officials said.

Hours earlier Sunday, the body of Nancy Adams Holt, 43, the mother of three young children, was found on the rear floor of her car in a satellite parking lot at the airport, police said. She was last seen Jan. 18.

State medical examiners concluded yesterday that the victim was strangled, said Capt. Gregory M. Shipley, a state police spokesman.

News of the woman's death and her husband's arrest filtered quietly yesterday through Mount Airy, a town of nearly 6,000 that straddles the Frederick County-Carroll County border.

Steve Spear, who was on his way to get a milkshake on South Main Street after romping with his young son in a park, said he moved from Ellicott City in October to get away from serious crime.

'Very surprised'

"I was very surprised to hear the husband had been charged," he said. "I didn't know them, but it's still sad. You don't expect this in such a quiet and friendly town."

Herb Lee, co-owner of the Train Depot on South Main Street, appeared stunned when told that Donald Holt had been charged.

"Wow, I didn't know," he said. "Of course, I knew she was missing, but you don't think this [kind of violent crime] will happen in Mount Airy. It's frightening."

Those who knew the Holts said the couple did not appear to have any serious problems and were caring and churchgoing parents of three children, twins Robert and Jennifer, 11, and Laura, 9.

'Wonderful neighbors'

"They have been wonderful neighbors to my parents," said a woman who asked not to be identified.

"We had no clue this would happen here. Nancy's mom was wonderful, too, coming after school to watch the children," the woman said as she stood in a driveway adjacent to the Holts' two-story brick and siding house with a two-car garage.

Nancy Holt was reported missing Jan. 20, after police received a call from an out-of-state friend who asked that they check on her. When troopers went to the home, Donald Holt told them his wife was supposed to go shopping and then to work on Jan. 18, police said.

Her co-workers at Health Care Finance Administration in Woodlawn told police that she never arrived there that day.

As many as 15 state police investigators worked around the clock looking for clues to her whereabouts, Shipley said.

Apparently, when her car was not found despite a nationwide search and her credit card was not being used, investigators began looking at Donald Holt more closely.

He was a scientific editor for the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda and appeared to be a model citizen, active at Twin Ridge Elementary School and Calvary United Methodist Church.

Rumors about disappearance

Rumors surfaced last week that he had disappeared.

"He was gone for one day," said Carol Yocum, associate pastor at Calvary United Methodist.

Yocum and her husband Dennis, the church's pastor, were as surprised as anyone when they learned of Donald Holt's arrest after services on Sunday.

"Nancy and Donald frequently attended worship together with their children" she said. "He has served on our finance committee and has helped with writing and publicity."

Nancy Holt helped the church's women's groups with her leadership skills, Carol Yocum said.

"She helped organize the Christmas craft show for community and mission projects for the last two or three years," she said.

Sorrow and concern

The overwhelming reaction in the church community has been sorrow and concern for the children and the families, Yocum said.

"Both have wonderful families, and they don't understand," she said.

At Twin Ridge Elementary, Principal H. Peter Storm said staff members, bolstered by a Frederick County schools' crisis team, spent yesterday morning with fourth-graders [Laura's classmates] and some parents, providing counseling. The Holt twins attend New Market Middle School.

Pub Date: 2/09/99

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