Authorities solve case of 27-year-old slaying Inmate reveals killer, who died in 1983

November 14, 1995|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Twenty-seven years after Anne L. Bradley was buried by her family, authorities said yesterday they found the killer of the St. John's College student who was found shot to death on the State House grounds. Investigators closed one of the oldest unsolved killings in Annapolis when they announced that Alonzo Henry Johnson Jr., who died in 1983 of a drug overdose in New York City, killed the student in a botched robbery attempt.

The 19-year-old woman was shot in the head at point-blank range Nov. 10, 1968, as she returned from an Annapolis pizza shop. Her body was found on a sidewalk just before 3 a.m. by a security officer who heard the shot.

Members of Miss Bradley's family, who live in Rhode Island and New Hampshire, praised police and state prosecutors for their persistence.

"I think everybody's still a little bit numb, but I'm truly in awe that this could be solved after so much time," said Georgia Houle, Miss Bradley's eldest sister.

It was a case that, for years, teetered on the edge of being forgotten.

After initial investigations, in 1975 the case was placed in the inactive files, where it sat for 17 years while Miss Bradley's family continued to write and press police for details.

In 1992, a "cold case" task force was formed by Annapolis police and the Anne Arundel state's attorney's office, and Miss Bradley's case was reactivated.

A witness who said he heard Mr. Johnson confess to the murder was found in prison in 1992, but he proved unreliable, said David Cordle, chief investigator with the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office.

Investigators got a break in the case in June when Mr. Cordle found an Annapolis man in jail who said the suspect confessed to him, and the second witness corroborated statements from the previous witness.

Mr. Cordle said the second witness knew details about the crime that could only be provided by the killer, such as the victim being shot in the left temple.

The second witness also took Mr. Cordle to a Glen Burnie lawyer's office, where a .38-caliber handgun believed to be the murder weapon had been stolen a few days before the slaying.

Mr. Cordle said the gun has never been found, but that the witness admitted to stealing the weapon and lending it to Mr. Johnson a short time before the killing. The witness threw the gun into College Creek when he heard police were looking for the murder weapon.

Anne Arundel police divers searched the creek two months ago and again last month, but they were unable to find the weapon.

"For all we know it's still out there," Mr. Cordle said.

He said both witnesses were likely interviewed by police at the time of the slaying, but that the second witness was more forthcoming because of the passage of time.

Mr. Cordle said Miss Bradley apparently was the target of a robbery that failed because she didn't even have enough money to pay for her pizza. She had agreed to come back the next day to pay for it, Mr. Cordle said.

"Whether it was out of frustration that she was shot, we'll never know," Mr. Cordle said.

Miss Bradley's sister said the family learned about the case being solved late last week in a telephone call from police and prosecutors.

Mrs. Houle said that what helps most is knowing that her ailing 86-year-old mother, who will move in with Mrs. Houle for the holidays, "finally has some closure" by knowing what happened to the youngest of her four children.

She said the family is planning a memorial service for Miss Bradley sometime after Christmas.

"The relief, being able to let things go, being able to know what happened, is a tremendous gift," Mrs. Houle said.

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