Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Hadden Clark

Walking Time Bomb

Hadden Clark as the Rockville Rocket (Montgomery County Police Dept.)
Hadden Clark as the
Rockville Rocket
(Montgomery County Police
Dept.)

Hadden Clark's mental state deteriorated over the next five years although his appearance and his behavior weren't bad enough to get him committed to an institution. He eschewed rented rooms and began living under the cap of his pickup truck, often setting up camp in woods just off an interstate highway. His days as a chef were over. Nobody would hire him. He worked odd jobs as a minimum wage gardener sent out by homeless groups and at night he would toil at fast food shops. Hadden had plenty of money. Living alone in the woods cost nothing. By 1990 he had saved nearly $40,000.

During those years there were plenty of warnings. The legal system that had focused on Carl Dorr and not Hadden Clark continued to look the other way.

In September of 1988, Hadden Clark visited his mother, who was now living in Rhode Island. During his stay he began stealing items from her house. Flavia caught him and screamed in anger.

"What are you doing, stealing from me?" she yelled.

Hadden knocked his mother down and began kicking her. Then he jumped into his truck and tried to run her over. She jumped aside just in time. The next day she charged her son with assault and battery. Hadden got a year's probation.

Flavia, devastated by Brad's murder conviction and Hadden's assault, wanted nothing to do with her progeny anymore. She wrote a letter to Hadden saying she was going to pretend he was dead until he got some help from a veterans' hospital. "Always remember that your mother and father loved you," she wrote. The word "loved," written in the past tense, did not go unnoticed.

Out of Control

In 1988, Hadden Clark was stopped for speeding in Rhode Island. Underneath the driver's seat was a .38 caliber Astra handgun. The same police department that had focused on Carl Dorr and not Michele Dorr's murderer let him go after he pled guilty to a destruction of property charge that had occurred earlier in the year. He was able to walk away with another suspended sentence and probation, a slap on the wrist that now extended into two states.

The destruction of property charge was particularly egregious and showed his temper was far from under control. In his last rental before going to live inside his truck in the woods, Hadden was bounced from a house in Bethesda, Maryland because as his landlord said, "he seemed crazy and evil." But before he left, he literally booby-trapped the house.

Hadden began by balancing a 10-gallon can of oil on top of a door so that it would spill when the door was pushed open. After spraying black dye on the living room carpet, he hid rotting fish heads inside the family's piano, chimney, and stove. As a final act of revenge, he killed both the family cats, placing one dead feline on the front door welcome mat and the other inside the refrigerator. Finally he stole several inconsequential items that ranged from books to tools—even the family's vacuum cleaner.

"The smell of decaying fish permeated the house and was extremely difficult to eradicate," the charging document read. Yet, the combination of a gun possession charge and vandalism set off no alarm bells about the man the local cops had once—albeit briefly—suspected of killing a six-year old girl.

There were times that Hadden Clark attempted to get help. He would often show up at a local veterans' hospital but after staying a few days and getting a few doses of Haldol, the anti-psychotic drug, he would bolt from the ward and return to his woods.

A doctor's diagnosis was a warning: "his mental state is psychosis with questionable etiology. He states that birds and squirrels talk to him and keep him company . . . he is tearful at times with intermittent outbursts of anger and agitation . . . he is a potential danger to himself through poor judgment and self-defeating behavior."

Hadden's own words as recorded by the hospital's doctors were chilling. "I think I have a split personality," he said. "I don't like to hurt people but I do things I am not aware of . . ."

Increasingly Unstable

In February of 1989, local police again arrested Hadden Clark. This time there was a 17-count criminal indictment. Fifteen of the counts were for theft. The acts were unusual. Hadden Clark had dressed in women's clothing and visited a number of area churches. While women inside the churches attended choir practice, he visited the cloakroom and stole both their purses and their coats.

On the day he was arrested, he pulled over to the shoulder of a park road and tinkered with his car. When the police offered assistance, Hadden panicked. He began fumbling around in the front seat, attempting to hide some of the women's coats and purses.

"No! No!" he told the cops. "You can't go in my truck."

It was too late. The police had seen a black gun holster hanging at the top of a seatbelt restraint. They wanted to see what else he had. When they saw the women's purses and coats they asked if he owned them. Hadden Clark said he did.

"They're yours? The incredulous cop asked.

"Yes," Hadden Clark answered. "I'm a woman."

The cops searched further. There were women's wigs, a hypodermic syringe, women's dresses, and a thick roll of cash.

Police mugshot of Hadden Clark
Police mugshot of
Hadden Clark

Arrested, he finally served some jail time. He stayed inside for 45 days before he posted bail but later boasted that he did the jail time on purpose because it was more comfortable in the county detention center than outside in the freezing February cold. He began to like the three meals a day, a roof over his head and movies every Thursday. He was almost reluctant to leave when spring arrived.

 

 

Although some of the charges were dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on two counts, the sentencing guidelines still called for three months to two years. Again there was probation even though he was already on probation in Maryland and Rhode Island.

Why such a minimal penalty?

"The defendant has serious mental problems and is now addressing them," Rockville, Maryland Judge Irma S. Raker wrote in her sentencing opinion. His public defender, Donald Salzman, was so sympathetic, he wrote a letter for Hadden Clark and instructed him to hand it to any police officer the next time he was arrested. The note read:

TO ANY POLICE OFFICER:

I want the help of my lawyer, Donald P. Salzman
and I want my lawyer to be present before I answer any questions about my case or any other matters.

I do not wish to speak to anyone concerning any
criminal charges pending against me or anyone else, or
any criminal investigation regardless of whether I am
charged.

I do not want to be in any lineup, or give any
handwriting samples, or give any blood, hair, urine,
or any other samples unless my lawyer is present.

My lawyer's address and phone number are:

Donald P. Salzman
Assistant Public Defender
Office of the Public Defender
27 Courthouse Square
Rockville, Maryland 20850
(301) 279-1372

Below the letter was a place for a police officer to sign and next to that a phrase that said: "To prove that I have read this statement to you or that you have read it, please sign here."

Hadden Clark was a walking time bomb that now had a "Get Out Of Jail Card" in his back pocket. The courts and the public defender's offices were doing everything possible to keep him on the streets of Maryland and giving him every opportunity to kill again.

He would do so very shortly. And the beautiful young woman who would be his victim would die a needless, terrible death because of it.

 

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