Sandra Grant waited nearly three years, hoping someone would be charged with beating her 15-year-old daughter to death and leaving the girl's nude body in the woods off an Anne Arundel County back road.
Yesterday, police told Mrs. Grant and her husband they had charged Mark John Loetz, 32, of the 900 block of Burnett Ave. in Arnold, with first-degree murder in the death of Mary Kathleen Grant.
In the morning, a District Court Commissioner in Glen Burnie ordered Mr. Loetz held without bond in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.
"I still have a hard time dealing with this," Mrs. Grant said late yesterday. "When this first happened, I was having psychiatric counseling and my whole head was on vacation. I was catatonic. It still hurts."
From the beginning, investigators had two suspects in mind. But their case came to a standstill because witnesses were afraid of one of the suspects and unwilling to talk to police.
But new officers who took over the Criminal Investigation Division and the homicide squad re-opened the case and began re-questioning witnesses, who eventually provided police with the information they needed.
"It took some hard work . . . but it was done," said Sgt. Dennis Bailey, who recently took over the homicide squad.
Kathy Grant's body was discovered Jan. 29, 1989, sprawled next to the blood spattered wall of an old cement building in a teen-age party spot off West Pasadena Road.
The area also was used as an illegal dumping ground, police said.
Near her body, police recovered the sweater she had been wearing. Tire tracks stopped about 60 feet from her body, but there was no evidence that her body had been dragged into the area.
Inside the building, lying on a trash heap, they found a red T-shirt with white lettering that read Kroeger Electric Co.
Investigators could not tell, however, whether the debris in the area belonged to the killers or had been left behind by others.
Police had no idea who the girl was until they searched missing persons reports filed throughout the state and found that Kathy's parents had reported January 19 that their daughter, a chronic runaway, was missing.
Kathy's twin sister, Chrissy, was the last family member who saw her alive on January 9 when the girls parted ways on Furnace Branch Road in Glen Burnie. Chrissy went home. She said Kathy told her she was walking to a friend's house on Americana Circle in Glen Burnie.
The friend told police, however, that Kathy never arrived.
Another friend told police that Kathy had called her some time in mid-January, saying that she was staying in an apartment on Americana Circle and that she was considering marrying a man that she was close to.
Police believe she was staying there voluntarily because her armpits and legs had been shaved recently, and eggs from the last meal she ate were still in her stomach, the autopsy showed.
According to charging documents filed in District Court, witnesses told detectives they saw Kathy leave the Earleigh Heights Tavern in Severna Park around midnight January 26 with two men, one of whom they identified as Mr. Loetz.
Police believe that Kathy knew her killers and went willingly with them to the wooded party spot. But she fought with them when they tried to force her to do something, police speculated early in the investigation.
Autopsy results determined that she had been beaten to death with a blunt instrument.
According to the charging documents, witnesses said they saw Mr. Loetz at a party in Arnold pounding a clenched fist on a table as he demonstrated how he allegedly killed Kathy.
Mr. Loetz has admitted to being at the tavern on Jan. 26, but denied that he was with Kathy.
The documents also say that he allegedly has threatened witnesses and demanded that one of them provide him with an alibi by telling investigators he spent the night of the murder with her.
He told another witness that he would "get her too" if she told police what she knew, the charging documents said.
Police also charged Kathy's 33-year-old boyfriend, who is a friend of Mr. Loetz, with the murder yesterday, but dropped those charges after talks with prosecutors. Police say the boyfriend is still a suspect.
Mrs. Grant, who still talks of her daughter every day, said yesterday that the arrest has given her little comfort.
Kathy's death has torn apart the Grant family, her mother said.