More than five years after Rebecca Claypool was stomped to death, John Clinton Easterwood, who was charged in the pregnant woman's slaying, still has not had his day in court.
Worse, Claypool's relatives say, is that Easterwood, a convicted rapist who police said escaped from the county detention center last January, has spent the past year sitting in the Cook County Detention Center in Illinois. He is awaiting trial on charges of armed violence, possession of a stolen car and weapons.
"It's like she was nobody, and it doesn't matter," said Esther Claypool, Rebecca's sister-in-law. "And then there was her unborn child. It's not like he is going to be charged with a double murder."
Rebecca Claypool, 24, was three months pregnant in July 1985, when her husband and father-in-law found her battered and partly clothed body in the woods behind the Pinewood Senior Citizen's Center in Glen Burnie.
Easterwood was charged in the case in 1989, when an expert linked his shoe to bloody footprints found on a newspaper next to her body. He escaped from the Anne Arundel County Detention Center with Frederick Joseph Mangone on Jan. 8, 1990. Both were recaptured in the Chicago area about a week later.
Easterwood is scheduled for a pretrial conference on the Illinois charges on Jan. 31, 1991, said Maureen McHale, spokeswoman for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Those charges carry a maximum 30-year sentence.
McHale said she did not know the reason for the delay in trying Easterwood. Pat Quinn, the assistant state's attorney handling the case in Cook County, could not be reached for comment Friday.
"It's incredible," Esther Claypool said. "The way our system works, he could serve time and be turned loose in Chicago. I think it's absolutely absurd that our prosecution protects the criminal."
Illinois officials said they had considered dropping the charges against Easterwood, but decided against it after learning of his history.
In 1989, Easterwood was serving a 6-year sentence for the rape of a Severna Park woman. A shoe and tire print expert linked a shoe seized from Easterwood during an earlier arrest for robbery in New York with bloody shoe prints found on a newspaper where Claypool's body was discovered.
Easterwood was initially placed in a routine-security dorm in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center. But because of the media attention his case was receiving, he asked to be moved to a segregation cell. Shortly afterward, he asked to be moved back to the routine-security dorm. He had been scheduled to stand trial Feb. 13, 1990, in Rebecca Claypool's death.
While awaiting trial, police say Easterwood conspired with Mangone to tunnel out of the area in which they were held.
After climbing over a 16-foot perimeter fence from the jail's roof, the pair stole a car from an auto repair shop on Hudson Street in Annapolis and went on a two-state crime spree, police said.
In a Pittsburgh suburb Jan. 12, they broke into a gun store and stole four guns, a two-way radio set and a cellular phone, police said.
Mangone was caught with the firearms and radios in the stolen car in Chicago Heights, Ill., Jan. 15, 1990. Easterwood was captured five days later trying to steal a car at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
Mangone was returned to Anne Arundel County in October, where he is being held in the maximum security section of the jail.
He is awaiting trial on theft charges in Anne Arundel County, and sentencing on robbery and weapons charges. ............