Forensic advances might yield clues in killing of girl in 1993

Arundel police frustrated with case

October 18, 1999|By Devon Spurgeon | Devon Spurgeon,SUN STAFF

On a chilly January morning six years ago, Lisa Kathleen Haenel was slain on her way to high school. Her nude body -- ravaged by a knife -- was found next to the teen-ager's blue Old Mill High School band jacket in a wooded ravine.

Anne Arundel County police are using advancements in forensic technology to extract better DNA evidence from Lisa's clothing and other items found near the crime scene, reinvigorating detectives who have interviewed hundreds of suspects in the years since the killing.

"This case has frustrated police," said Lt. Jeff Kelly, county police spokesman. "Lisa seems like the girl next door. She could be any one of our daughters, and we cannot come up with a specific motive as to why this would happen."

One of the key pieces of evidence being retested is a cigarette butt found near the 14-year-old's body. Investigators hope saliva on the cigarette will allow them to extract a DNA sample of someone who watched or participated in Lisa's killing. Her blood was also found on the cigarette.

Lisa's clothes -- blue jeans, a gray sweat shirt, white leather sneakers and a purple shirt -- are also being re-examined in the search for more forensic evidence.

Detectives hope to get a good DNA sample from the crime scene and run it through an FBI database containing DNA samples of more than 2 million convicted criminals.

Police also said Friday they are still looking for "Jerome" -- a 20-something black or Hispanic man with an acne-pitted complexion -- who might be a witness to the killing, if he exists. Police received tips that the man might have knowledge of the killing. Detectives released a composite sketch of "Jerome" in 1995, but they have not found him.

Investigators say Lisa was a "good girl" who spent her weekends doing homework and baby-sitting. Her friends told police she had never smoked cigarettes or used drugs. A gifted student, Lisa tutored kids two years older than she was in algebra. She played the piccolo and flute in the school band.

"Sometimes homicide victims became victims as a result of other questionable criminal activity they have been involved in," said Kelly. "In the case of Lisa Haenel, she is clean on so many levels that any underlying reason for her death does not exist."

The ninth-grader left her mother's apartment at Southgate in Glen Burnie on Jan. 15, 1993, about 6: 45 a.m. Lisa followed a dirt path near Shetlands Lane and Century Towne Road through a wooded area to get to Old Mill High School. The path is a shortcut for students who walk to the high school from Rainbow View and Southgate apartments.

Police believe that she was killed between 6: 45 a.m. and 7 a.m. Her body was found about 100 feet from the path in a wooded ravine. Investigators are still trying to determine whether she was attacked on the path or lured down to the ravine by her killer.

No evidence of a struggle or a sexual assault was found at the scene, sources said. Certain items were missing from her backpack, sources said, which might indicate robbery as a motive.

Lisa was found the next morning by her mother's 38-year-old boyfriend, Phillip Enck. He went searching for her and walked the path to school. He found her lying face down in the woods. Enck voluntarily took two polygraph tests, both inconclusive, in the week after her death, police said.

"I told them they were off the beaten path," said Lisa's mother, Meg Enck, in a recent interview. "There was no way he could have been involved." She married Enck a year after her daughter's death.

A profile of Lisa's assailant assembled by the FBI for county investigators suggests her assailant was likely a white man who might have been using drugs at the time of the slaying.

The killing was characterized as "disorganized" and "spur of the moment" because no effort was made to conceal the body.

A reward is still being offered in the case by Lisa's father, who was not living in the United States at the time of her death. The reward is $5,000 plus interest accumulated since it was deposited in 1993.

Lisa's mother visits her daughter's grave in Glen Burnie several times a month, bringing fresh flowers and collecting the notes that friends leave on her grave. A simple white cross marks the spot near where her body was found.

"She was my life," Meg Enck said. "The only child of a single parent -- what more can I say? When she was growing up, I used to say, `It is just you and me, kid.' I still say that to her at the cemetery."

Pub Date: 10/18/99

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