Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Unsolved Murder Spotlight: Mary F. Kelly

Mary Kelly. Family photo.

On April 21, 1988, 28-year-old Mary Kelly left home around 11 p.m. to meet a friend for drinks at Friar Tucks, a bar in the Rocks Spring Shopping Center in Harford County, Maryland. She hung out for a bit, then left after midnight to drop a friend off at home. Around 1 a.m. she was headed home, where a babysitter was watching her two daughters, aged 4 and 5. When Mary wasn’t home by morning, the worried babysitter called Mary’s family. Immediately, they knew something was wrong; Mary was a responsible, family-oriented woman who wouldn’t leave her kids. Police were called, and the next day Mary’s car was found parked in a shopping area in Fountain Green, its seats stained with blood. On this grim note began a search for Mary that would last through the entire summer.

On September 27, Mary’s family received the news they’d feared all along. Construction workers had found Mary’s remains in a wooded area near Patterson Mill Road in Bel Air. When police arrived at the family’s home, they brought with them a little relic of Mary — a ‘World’s Greatest Mom’ necklace that had been found on the body.

Investigators looked into Mary’s acquaintances for leads, but came up with nothing promising. In 2010, after nearly two decades of no progress, cold case detective Sgt. Tina Becker took over the case. Becker believes that there are people who have information regarding what happened to Mary, but aren’t coming forward because they may have been involved in drugs or other illegal activity at the time. “I’m looking to solve Mary’s murder and I’m not looking to prosecute anyone for any other crimes that may have been going on at the time,” said Becker. Now, according to the Maryland State Police website, Sergeant Scott Collier of the cold case unit is the investigator on this case.

Anyone with information regarding Mary Kelly’s killer is encouraged to call the Maryland State Police at 410-953-8211 or email Sgt. Collier at

Thanks to reader Melissa for suggesting this case. If you know of an unsolved murder you’d like to see featured on Crime Library, email us at

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Mary Kelly's car. Police photo.





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