She was only a child, a pretty 12-year-old on her way home after walking her sister to the bus stop. She never made it.
Somebody took her into an alley in the 1800 block of West Baltimore Street, raped her and then put a .32-caliber bullet in the back of her head. State prosecutors say Eugene Dale Jr., "a man with evil in his heart," was the one who raped and killed Andrea Perry on Oct. 12, 1988.
Charged with rape and first-degree murder, Dale, 32, went on trial this week in Baltimore Circuit Court. If convicted, he could be sentenced to die in the gas chamber.
"Baltimore has a lot of murders and it is an unfortunate reality, and not all of them are covered by the press," city prosecutor Donald J. Giblin told the jury in his opening statement. "But when a 12-year-old girl is found, that makes news."
She was nicknamed "Fatty Poo," a term of endearment her family gave her when she was a chubby baby. She was a seventh-grader at Harlem Park Middle School, a lacrosse player, a cheerleader and a singer in her church's choir.
"In short, she was the type of young lady that you would be proud to call a daughter," Mr. Giblin told the jury. "She was the kind of a girl that we in the older generation looked to to lead Baltimore into the 21st century."
Darryl Sydnor testified that on the morning of Oct. 13, 1988, Dale approached him and told him he thought there was a body in the alley behind the 1800 block of West Baltimore Street. Mr. Sydnor said he and a co-worker walked into the alley, found the dead girl on a trash-strewn slab of concrete and then called police.
Three weeks later, police searched Dale's home in the first block of South Gilmor Street and found the .32-caliber Harrington & Richardson revolver used to kill Andrea. Months later, a DNA test of the sperm found in the girl's body matched the DNA found in Dale's blood, Mr. Giblin told the jury.
But this particular DNA match, which according to court records occurs 1 in 2.7 billion times, will be fiercely contested by Dale's defense attorneys. In her opening statement to the jury, M. Cristina Gutierrez asked the jurors to question the quality of the DNA test and laboratory that conducted the test.
"If you take the time and you search for the truth, you'll find secrecy that hides the truth," she said. "Andrea Perry deserves your time. This may be the last time for her. Take the time for Eugene Dale because this could be the last time for Eugene Dale."