Just a name assuages family's long grief Case closed: The family of Anne LeSourd Bradley finally has the answer to a question that has lingered for 27 years: Who killed the St. John's College junior on an Annapolis park bench?

November 19, 1995|By Ellen Gamerman and Kris Antonelli | Ellen Gamerman and Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Dennis O'Brien contributed to this article.

There will be no trial. They will never see their sister's killer in prison, and they will never know why Annie Bradley was shot to death on an Annapolis park bench one night 27 years ago.

But at least they have the killer's name -- and for them that is enough.

The death of the St. John's College junior, slain in the shadow of the State House, has been shrouded in mystery since the single shot was fired on Nov. 10, 1968. Annapolis police announced last week that they had found the man who did it.

Anne LeSourd Bradley's death came at the end of a year of civil rights and anti-Vietnam protests, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and the election of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. On the night of the murder, Mr. Agnew was sleeping in the Governor's Mansion, just a block away.

In the 27 years since then, America has calmed and the Bradley family has gone on. Her brothers and sister built careers and families. But they never really laid that November night to rest. Annie's sister likens the years since the death to a time capsule, perfectly preserving the pain.

Last week, the Bradley family was given the killer's name. For them, it doesn't matter that the killer died 12 years ago. They see a way to resolve their grief in the two words that form his name.

"It's real now," said Georgia Houle, Annie's older sister. "For us, it seems like an ending."

'She seemed very happy'

At a party that Saturday night at her St. John's dorm, 20-year-old Annie Bradley danced until about midnight.

"She told us that she had been out building sand castles earlier," one of her classmates told detectives. "She seemed very happy."

Shortly after 2 a.m., she phoned an order for a pepperoni pizza to Colonial Kitchen, a college haunt at the corner of State Circle and Maryland Avenue. She had only a nickel, so she coaxed the clerk into letting her buy on credit. St. John's had a 1:30 a.m. curfew, but she coaxed her way past that, too.

"I kidded with her about how I would not let her back in," the college switchboard operator told police. "But she told me that she would be back in a half an hour."

It was rainy and in the 40s as Annie walked the short distance to the pizza shop. She ran into another student on the way who gave her some Christmas tinsel. She ate half the pizza at the restaurant, then took the rest across State Circle to a park bench on the State House grounds. It was still drizzling, but she began to eat anyway.

Her friends told police she liked to eat in the rain.

"Anne was trusting and fearless," said Christopher Nelson, then her classmate, now president of St. John's College. "That was something she would do."

A short distance away, Alonzo Johnson was talking with friends.

The police in the Clay Street area knew Johnson, then 19 years old. Johnson and his buddies were arrested several times before and after the murder -- usually for breaking into businesses or homes or stealing cars. Born in New York City, he had moved to Annapolis before the shooting and didn't really belong to any one group of youths, according to a friend at the time. The friend said Johnson often hung out at the pool hall.

That night on Church Circle, one of Johnson's friends had a gun, stolen a week earlier from the office of a Glen Burnie lawyer. The friend, 15, and his older brother were going to pick up their mother, who was about to quit work for the night at an Annapolis restaurant. Johnson needed money and said he wanted to rob somebody. His friend gave him the gun.

Investigators speculate that Johnson walked up behind Annie, put the gun to her left temple and demanded money. When she told him she didn't have any, he shot her out of frustration or anger.

After shooting Annie, investigators surmise, Johnson ran from the scene -- around the State House and onto Clay Street, where several people saw him talking to a friend in front of Butch Queen's Barber Shop. He and the friend disappeared into a house on West Washington Street.

Minutes later, State House security guard Joseph Talley saw Annie Bradley lying beside the path, her right arm over her head. Blood was running out of her mouth and from the quarter-inch hole in her left temple.

The killing overwhelmed the small 40-officer Annapolis Police Department, which handled at most two murders a year -- usually less mysterious ones like barroom fights and domestic quarrels. Investigators made mistakes. Twelve hours passed before the police searched the area around the bench. And when they did, they left behind something as big as the pizza box, tucked under the bench where Annie had left it.

E9 The box was there for two days before it disappeared.

The real story

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